I AM a MAN: R.I.P. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ernest Withers
Ernest Withers, 1968
Hank Willis Thomas
Hank Willis Thomas, 2009

Today, the striking Memphis sanitation workers whose efforts King supported in 1968 are once again concerned about being diminished as workers, as persons, and as citizens as the city is considering privatizing sanitation work and thus effectively eliminating the Union. 45 years after King’s assassination on this day in Memphis, the fight for dignity continues.

5 thoughts on “I AM a MAN: R.I.P. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    1. Thanks so much for this reference and the rich resources. I’m eager to listen to this. I think Glenn Ligon’s work was exhibited here in Atlanta recently; like a few years ago, but I missed it. I’ve always been interested in the ’68 sanitation workers strike. Even though their protests takes place during the early stages of black power, I’m not convinced that their declaration about manhood is patriarchal. I think it’s a mistake to make that assumption too quickly.

      I saw a YouTube video where Hank Willis Thomas discusses his “I am a Man” remix. He says that he views the first line as a timeline and the second line as a poem. I’m eager to hear how Ligon thinks about his remix. Again, thanks so much for the reference.

      1. Yes, I like what you said about the message as not a patriarchal one. I agree, I think it is a very human one. “I am a man,” I am human. I will check out the Hank Willis remix. Ligon also did some work with photography in addition to the “painting text on canvas.” All very interesting these perspectives on such important historical moments in our country. Love how art can do this, be a part of a very serious social dialogue with creative offerings and gestures.

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