Early Works

LEWIS KOCH
Dr. King Speaking at a Rally, 1965


 

I made this photograph when I was 15 or 16 years old. My family and I were active members of the Long Island chapter of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), and I had the great privilege of hearing Dr. King speak a few times in the mid-1960's.

In the late 1970's I discovered a roll of film in the basement of my parents' house. For some unknown reason, I had never developed it. I remember having a miniature twin-lens reflex camera which used 127 roll film, by then already obsolete, so developing reels were difficult to find. Upon processing it, I discovered this image. I still consider it to be one of the most significant images I've made over the course of fifty years of picture-making.

The event at which Dr. King was speaking was a fair housing rally in West Hempstead, NY. He was speaking from the back of a pickup truck, and I had the advantage of being small enough at the time to work my way to the front of the crowd to make this picture.

It's hard to express just how moving it was to see the negative appear—somewhat diminished by time, but still there, with the ghosted figure of a childhood hero returning from beyond the pale, 15 years later.

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