Martin Luther King Jr. day is coming up on Jan. 17; what impact did MLK Jr. have on the art world?

Here at The Fine Art and Frame Company, we choose to recognize and acknowledge important figures of the past. We all know who Martin Luther King Jr. was and what he fought and died for. A chance to get what every person deserves; equality and the same fighting chance as anyone else regardless the color of their skin. He is one of the most influential and beloved people of all time because of his fight, personality, leadership, and overall humanity. With MLK being that influential and so loved, he was able to reach out and connect with people beyond his basic principles. The art world supported him, and showed that support through work they were doing.

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The Domino Effect

The art world did support MLK and everything he fought for, but you must remember how bad and frightening things were in 1968. People of color up until 1968, were discriminated against from buying a house/condo/apartment based on the color of their skin. Only 4 years before MLK's death in 1964, legal Jim Crow laws were prohibited from being enforced; and we all know that a majority of cities where Jim Crow laws were abundant before 1964 did not just stop enforcing all of these laws entirely. This is why so many people looked up to MLK. He was fighting against people who have never experienced pushback at such a large level; that is when the fight changed for good.

April 4, 1968. MLK is giving a speech in Memphis Tennessee when suddenly... panic erupts. That same day, Martin Luther King Jr. passes away at a local hospital; shocking the world. This was not the end of his work, but just the beginning.

In the art world, work began right away to pay tribute to such an important person. Just seven months later the New York Museum of Modern Art held an event called, "In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King." This event brought together many of the leading artists in the field at the time. All of the proceeds from that event went to Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an African-American civil rights organization for which King served as its first president. White controlled institutions then followed suit and began recognizing the importance of diversity in art. They began opening up galleries that included a diversity of art work from many different backgrounds and ethnicities.


Fast Forward to Today

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We see that even in 2022, issues that MLK dealt with in 1968 are still around today. The death of George Floyd in 2020 is one of these examples. Since that point in time we have seen a similar, if not more aggressive response to murders of African-American men. We saw street art and murals cover walls in alley's, corners, and skyscrapers. Peaceful and some non-peaceful protests sparked up around the world. This freedom of speech against injustices in our country would not and could not have been made possible without MLK. His leadership and his courage has allowed not only the art world to adopt to a more inclusive culture, but the nation as a whole. We can see that there is still a long way to go, but no one can doubt MLK's legacy, and his impact on the art world.


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