Why Ebony Magazine’s Archives Were Saved

By Syreeta McFaddon | The Atlantic

In a 1968 photograph taken by Moneta Sleet Jr., a veiled and stoic Coretta Scott King comforts her youngest child at the funeral of her husband, Martin Luther King Jr. It is 5-year-old Bernice King’s eyes lingering in the camera’s gaze that haunt the viewer. The image, which was disseminated via dozens of wires, would become one of Sleet’s most iconic pictures. But it almost wasn’t taken: When arrangements for press-pool access to the funeral neglected to include a black photographer, Coretta Scott King insisted that Sleet—who’d photographed the King family for Ebony magazine since 1955—be let in or no press would be allowed inside at all. The picture won Sleet the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1969. He became the first African American photographer and journalist to receive the award.

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