Martin Luther King Jr.: See photos never before published

The daughter of a former political adviser had no idea that she had a piece of history sitting in a drawer.

In May 1964, less than a year after delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, DC, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

King's speech that night highlighted the need for justice and called for an end to segregation while senators in Washington, DC, were debating the Civil Rights Act.

"Now is the time to make the promises of democracy a reality," King said, echoing the language he used in his most famous speech of 1963. "Now is the time to open the floodgates of opportunity and now allow an avalanche of justice fall on us. Now is the time to get rid of segregation and discrimination. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all the children of God. This is the challenge of the hour. "

Jay A. Brown, courtesy of the Brown family

At that time, Barbara Moss's father, Jay A. Brown, worked as an badistant to Congressman Thomas Rees. He attended the event, capturing it in color film.

"What my mother and I can imagine is that my father probably took his camera with him this day, he always had his camera, and by some miracle a color film appeared in the camera," Moss told TIME.

The resulting photographs show King on the podium and also capture the crowd that attends the speech. Moss rediscovered the photos, approximately 50 years later, after his father pbaded away in 2013. Although his father was a "purger" ("he threw everything down," he said), he had kept these photos revealed, and it became immediately clear that they showed Martin Luther King Jr. in action. But, during the few personally agitated years that followed, Moss forgot the photos.

Jay A. Brown, courtesy of the Brown family

"On the move, I recently rediscovered the box in a desk drawer and it was like, Oh my God," she said.

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As you would learn from a friend who has worked in the printing and photo services office at the Smithsonian, although the color film was not uncommon at that time, many professional photographers used black and white films because newspapers did not print color photos . . Knowing that the color photographs had an additional level of interest and that these had never been published, he decided to share them.

Jay A. Brown, courtesy of the Brown family

"These are an American treasure, they should not be in a drawer," he said. "When I realized how valuable they were, I knew we had to do something with them."

Moss said that, for her, the photos are not only special because of their quality, but they are also special because of the enduring relevance of King's life work.

"If Martin Luther King were alive today, what would he be saying now?" He reflected. "His message was so important and resonates today clearly."

Write to Gina Martínez at [email protected]

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