5 Works In The Spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the uplifting spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Marketing Intern Aysia Woods selects five works from the permanent collection that reflect the Reverend’s uniting and powerful legacy.

Lawrence_panel 43

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 43: In a few sections of the South leaders of both Black and White communities met to discuss ways of making the South a good place to live., between 1940 and 1941. Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1942

1) First, we have Panel 43 (1940-41) from The Migration Series of renowned artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000). Depicted in the painting are Southern leaders, black and white, meeting to discuss ways to improve Southern living conditions. This great work encourages collaboration regardless of background, just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so often encouraged.


Kenneth Noland, April, 1960. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 16 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1960.

2) April (1960) by Kenneth Noland (1924-2010) is a reflection of the contagious positive energy Dr. King emitted to other civil rights leaders and the entire nation. The bright yellow center was inspired by the sun, while the expanding circles imply continuous growth and life.


Edward Bruce, Power, ca. 1933. Oil on canvas, Framed: 31 1/4 in x 52 1/4 in x 2 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift of Mrs. Edward Bruce, 1957

3) Next up is Power (1933) by Edward Bruce (1879-1943). New York City is illuminated by American pride and national unity even through the ominous clouds overhead. This sentiment of tenacity certainly resonated with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s unwavering courage to unite the American people regardless of obstacles.

Eakins_Miss Amelia Van Buren

Thomas Eakins, Miss Amelia Van Buren, ca. 1891, Oil on canvas 45 x 32 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1927

4) I think Dr. King certainly would have enjoyed Thomas Eakins’s (1844-1916) Miss Amelia Van Buren (1891). This seemingly solemn painting portrays Van Buren, a women persevering in turning her dreams of being an artist into reality. After all, civil rights were not only about rights of blacks in America, but rights of all people.

Pippin_Domino Player

Horace Pippin, Domino Players, 1943. Oil on composition board, 12 3/4 x 22 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1943

5) Finally, Domino Players (1943) by self-taught African American painter Horace Pippin (1888-1946) depicts exactly what the remarkable Martin Luther King, Jr. dedicated his entire life to protect – family.

Aysia Woods, Marketing Intern


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