Martin Luther King, Jr. - Mountain Top

image for Martin Luther King, Jr. - Mountain Top
Exhibition Label
Born Atlanta, Georgia
Romare Bearden's image of Martin Luther King Jr., entitled Mountain Top, represents an homage to a fallen leader. As an African American artist who served in an all-black regiment during World War II, Bearden understood the continued prejudice King sought to combat and became a great admirer of the civil rights leader. The work's title and imagery are derived from a speech delivered by King in Memphis on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated. King warned the crowd to anticipate "difficult days" and declared, "But it doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop [and] I've seen the promised land." He continued, in language that seems, in retrospect, prophetic, "I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."
Romare Bearden, 2 Sep 1911 - 12 Mar 1988
Martin Luther King, Jr., 15 Jan 1929 - 4 Apr 1968
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© 2019 Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Nature & Environment\Mountain
Nature & Environment\Sun
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Male
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Society and Social Change\Reformer\Activist\Civil rights activist\Civil rights leader
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Religion and Spirituality\Clergy\Minister
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Nobel Prize
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Congressional Gold Medal
Sheet: 76 x 49.8cm (29 15/16 x 19 5/8")
Mat: 91.4 x 66cm (36 x 26")
National Portrait Gallery