On April 4, 1968, photographer Burk Uzzle traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, where the Baptist minister and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been assassinated. Uzzle proceeded to follow King’s casket from Memphis to Atlanta, photographing the crowds of mourners. In this work, Uzzle captures a moment between an anonymous woman and King’s body while it was on view at a Memphis funeral home. The woman tenderly rests her hand on King’s cheek, and the perspective of the photograph places the viewer next in line to pay their respects.

Uzzle’s photographs bridge the gap between photojournalism and fine art, capturing historical moments while artistically framing a scene. In this work, the composition emphasizes the interplay between various patterns, textures, and colors, such as the woman’s leopard-skin hat and the bright orange cross in the stained glass window. The pink and white ruffles of the casket lining create a visual link with the woman’s softer-toned pink coat.


  • Title: Martin Luther King
  • Creator: Burk Uzzle
  • Creator Birth Place: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Date Created: 1968
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: 13 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches (34.9 x 23.5 cm)
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © Burk Uzzle
  • Medium: Carbon print
  • Art Form: Photography
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Gift of Charles Weinraub and Emily Kass in honor of Tom Rankin. Image courtesy of the artist.

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