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Justice

Exploring Martin Luther King's Legacy in New York City

A photography exhibit revisits King’s impact on the fight for civil rights in the city.
Dr. Benjamin Spock, Dr. King and Monsignor Rice of Pittsburgh march in the Solidarity Day Parade at the United Nations building, April 15, 1967.
Dr. Benjamin Spock, Dr. King and Monsignor Rice of Pittsburgh march in the Solidarity Day Parade at the United Nations building, April 15, 1967.Benedict J. Fernandez

Martin Luther King Jr. is an American icon: one whose name is on street signs and schoolhouses across the country. If we associate him with a specific city, our minds usually jump to places in the south: Montgomery or Selma, Alabama. Perhaps even Washington, D.C., where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. For once, New York City is not top of mind.

But King’s connections to New York really do run deep. “He participated in this black radical tradition in New York that had been going on forever. When he’s in the city, he’s running in those networks, and some of those people are integral to advising him and helping the civil rights movement,” said Sarah Seidman, curator of a new exhibit on King at the Museum of the City of New York.