Chilean-born, New York-based writer, photographer Camilo Jose Vergara has been travelling across the US since 1970, photo documenting street portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King jr.
Having discovered the many hand painted murals done by local artists on neighborhood walls of car repair shops, alleyways, barbershop and the like, Vargas noticed a consistent theme of this this folk art whether it be in a Latino, Native American or Asian neighborhood,
“Over time I became interested in learning why these images are so pervasive. I feel that they reflect a significant cultural phenomenon: the rise of Dr. King as a central moral figure in poor neighborhoods, and his elevation to secular sainthood as the savior of dispossessed African Americans. His varied representations, often based on photographs taken from the national media, express poor people’s perceptions.” Camilo Vergara
Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara interviewed by NPR