How This Image of MLK "Took The Internet By Storm"

January 19, 2015

How This Image of MLK

This Martin Luther King Day, we're looking back at one of CAN's most impactful images, honoring the civil rights icon in the best way we know how.

April 4th, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while advocating for the rights of African American sanitation workers, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by James Earl Ray.

February 26th, 2012: Trayvon Martin, a junior at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School, was visiting his father in Sanford, Flordia. While walking home with skittles and an iced tea in his pocket, he was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. 

July 13, 2013: George Zimmerman is acquitted by a jury of his peers, and walks free out of a Florida courthouse. 

Later that night: We shared this image by Nikkolas Smith, a Los Angeles based artist, who contributed this piece to our Gun Show Gallery campaign, crowdsourcing artwork about gun safety. 


A few minutes later: Civil rights advocate and CAN advisor, Van Jones, tweeted Nikk's image to his followers online. 

and hip-hop artist Common shared on facebook & instagram soon after. 

The next day, July 14th, 2013: Mainstream media outlets across the country start featuring the image in their coverage, noting that it's already "taken the internet by storm." 

The coverage becomes self-fulfilling, and hours later, the image is truly everywhere online. 

Thursday, July 18th: CAN's own Nikkolas Smith goes live on CNN to discuss his piece and the role of artistic expression in social justice, with Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece. 

We couldn't be more proud of that chain of events -  how one artist, with northing more than a great idea, photoshop, and our platform to share his work, changed the national conversation for the better.

You can support Nikk and his continued work by purchasing this, or other of his phenomenal prints, at:



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