In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.: Murals that conjure the great man, the enduring dream [Photo essay]
Painted on the side wall of the neighborhood auto shop or the corner mom-and-pop store, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s image proclaims his place in the American pantheon. In some neighborhoods, he looks as if he might have had a Latin ancestor, and he makes common cause with the Virgin of Guadalupe and Pancho Villa. In other neighborhoods, he's accompanied by a stern Malcolm X or the pyramids of Egypt. Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara has been documenting such murals in Los Angeles and other American cities since well before the United States declared a holiday in King's name. Talisman, memorial and declaration of principles, the murals conjure the great man, the enduring dream -- and the power of the billboard.
--Photographs by Camilo Jose Vergara
Camilo Jose Vergara is a 2002 MacArthur fellow whose books include "American Ruins" and "How the Other Half Worships." firstname.lastname@example.org
E. 76th Place at S. Central Ave., Los Angeles, 2009