“The New Yorker” is making a statement about racial and social equality for its upcoming cover to be released on Monday, and Martin Luther King Jr. is at the center of it all.
This Martin Luther King Day the magazine decided to honor his legacy while calling attention to some of the senseless deaths that have ignited the discussion on race in the United States over the last few years. In a takeoff of a scene from “Selma,” the water-color picture features Martin linking arms with Eric Garner and slain NYPD officer Wenjian Liu as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown stand in the background.
While many in the Black community view the problem of unequal justice and police brutality as an us-against-them problem, the cover poignantly depicts that all of these men have been victims for doing nothing more than living their lives. At the same time, artist Barry Blitt also puts a modern spin on Martin’s mission in life during the civil rights movement with this piece.
“It struck me that King’s vision was both the empowerment of African-Americans, the insistence on civil rights, but also the reconciliation of people who seemed so hard to reconcile,” Barry explained to “The New Yorker.”
And it was no accident that Eric and Wenjian were painted standing side-by-side with Martin.
“In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things. Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early,” said Barry. “It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.”