THIS WEEK’S THE NEW YORKER boasts a cover image of Martin Luther King Jr., by Los Angeles artist Kadir Nelson. In the illustration, the civil rights legend’s brow is furrowed. He looks pensive, as though he is not sure what to make of the state of the nation he left behind.

“What would Dr. King think of the world today? My image is a celebration of Dr. King and his vision. What happened to his dream of racial and economic equality, and what is the impact of non-violent resistance over half a century later? It’s a conversation between the past, the present, and the future,” Nelson told The New Yorker.

“What would Dr. King think of the world today? My image is a celebration of Dr. King and his vision. What happened to his dream of racial and economic equality, and what is the impact of non-violent resistance over half a century later?” — Kadir Nelson, The New Yorker

The illustration appears on the Jan. 16 edition of the magazine and features a large portrait of King with references to today’s most pressing social justice issues superimposed on his suit jacket, necktie and hands. The images feature diverse groups of young people, including Native Americans, on the National Mall protesting against police violence; at the Edmund Pettus Bridge; in Flint, Mich., where a clean water crisis continues; and marching to promote voter participation.

Inside, an accompanying essay by Jelani Cobb posits what we can anticipate next year when the King Day holiday is “presided over by a President who scarcely seems to comprehend King’s principles.” CT

 

BOOKSHELF
Kadir Nelson has collaborated on a number of beautifully illustrated children’s books, many of them focusing a important historical figures, including Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King Jr. Nelson authored, “Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit,” a book for young people featuring his black and white illustrations, as a tribute to President Obama upon his election.