This cover specifically arrives the week of the holiday honoring King and as protests against police tactics, which have taken place across the country in recent months, are expected to continue over the weekend and into Monday. It also comes as “Selma,” a movie about King and the civil rights movement, is expanding into additional theaters after earning Best Picture nomination.
Comparisons between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the current protests against police have been made since last summer, when repeated demonstrations occurred after Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. A generational divide emerged between the activists who had marched in the 1960s and the younger generation. This rift drew renewed attention earlier this month when Oprah Winfrey, who produced “Selma,” criticized the new movement as lacking leadership, comments that were criticized by the younger activists.
“In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things,” Blitt told the New Yorker. “Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early. It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.”
Related: In November, Michael Cavna spoke to Bob Staake about his New Yorker cover that touched on the racial divide in St. Louis.