Martin Luther King Jr. Tattoos
Photo by Louis Cahill
Today, we celebrate the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr., a man described as a "human rights icon." Some, however, choose to honor him every day with tribute tattoos, and those are the people I'd like to feature today; people who tattoo themselves with inspirational figures, instead of, say, Old Dirty Bastard or Gwen Stefani (sadly I found more tattoos of them than MLK).
The tattoo above is by Watson Atkinson on musician Killick Hinds who was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. to have the word "Colorblind" tattooed on his chest. Here's his story behind it:
"The design was a collaboration between me, my wife Delene, and the
brilliant tattoo artist Watson Atkinson. This
particular section of my huge tattoo project was done in Atlanta in
2007. Watson is currently at Blndsght Tattoo in Portland, Maine.Larger views of Killick's tattoo are here and here.
A favorite ritual upon moving to Athens, Georgia in 1995 was listening to local college station WUOG every Sunday morning for Dr. Martin Luther King Speaks. I was entranced and elevated by MLK's rich melodic tenor, his message of reconciliation, peace, and societal improvement. His encouragement to awaken the slumbering beast of universal brother and sisterhood helped in my releasing that which can't stand the light of day. I felt gratitude to be living in Georgia, in the heart of this sweeping and long overdue change. Some years on I began my tattooing and wanted a strong central anchor. My chest seemed a good place to highlight my hope for a world where we are all accorded without prejudice. The word "colorblind" is written backwards to highlight a graphic sense, and to recognize that words are only surface symbols pointing to something deeper. It's framed by 3's or E's, depending on your vantage. "33" is known as the age of wisdom and a nice entry into focused meditation. "EE" stands for "embrace extemporaneity," my unofficial improviser's motto. I'm also slightly red-green colorblind, and my father was completely colorblind, so I come by it honest. But the motivation was not to advertise my visual acuity or lack thereof, rather to celebrate the everyday work-in-progress of relating to one another."
Other beautiful MLK tattoos include this one below by Jason Grace (currently having a non-tattoo adventure in South America) and these portraits by Joshua Carlton and Mike Demasi.