Martin Luther King Jr. seen up close in rare color photos during Chicago visit

ByJayme Nicholas Localish logo
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Martin Luther King Jr. seen up close in rare color photos
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"I made every shot count."

CHICAGO -- During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, most photographers shot in black and white as it was cheaper and the accepted way to get photos printed in newspapers.

It was just luck that amateur photographer, Bernard Kleina, pulled out a roll of color film and began taking photos of Dr. Martin Luther King during his visit to Chicago to confront housing discrimination.

Kleina reflected "I can't believe how stupid I was to only shoot one roll," while also acknowledging that "I made every shot count."

Kleina shares his recollections of photographing Dr. King with little security, enabling him to get within a few feet of King with no one trying to stop him.

Kleina talks about his participation in not only capturing these historic events, but joining the marches where he was spit on and jeered. When Kleina got upset and wanted to react, he recalls how an older black marcher said, "Remember why you're here, brother."

Kenneth Gunn, Acting Commissioner of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, also reacted to the photos and talks about how these color images are so powerful personally and to others who view them.

Kleina's photos are featured at the Smithsonian online at and at Montage photos from the latest protests were taken by Vashon Jordan.