Portal uses blockchain to share Martin Luther King with the world

Through blockchain technology, rare images of Martin Luther King have been made available

The Obsidian Collection, a virtual portal of Black historic, artistic, and cultural images, is using blockchain technology to commemorate the American civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Obsidian Images will offer consumers Non-fungible tokens, (NFTs) of rare photographs of Dr King during his historic visit to Chicago in 1966. These images were originally captured by John Tweedle, who was the first African American photographer hired by a major metropolitan newspaper.

The images show the legendary anti-racist activist challenging Chicago’s slumlords, institutional racism, and former Chicago Mayor, Richard J. Daley. There are also shots of King speaking to a crowd at Chicago stadium Soldier Field and a fundraiser for the movement at the city’s International Amphitheatre that drew famous Black actors and musicians including Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Mahalia Jackson.

Obsidian will initially offer five images photographed by Tweedle which are part of an extensive collection owned by author, entrepreneur and philanthropist Hermene Hartman.

Launched in 2017 by Chicago entrepreneur Angela Ford, the Obsidian Collection are digitising visual content from Black photographers, organisations and newspapers for licensing and permission to use to tell Black stories, which is essential as the Black Lives Matter movement continues.

NFTs are part of the great innovation in digital technology and are unique digital assets that can be bought and sold using blockchain technology and include things such as artwork, music, videos, and more.

The Obsidian Collection also includes Obsidian WROTE, an online platform that allows Black writers to be discovered by media outlets and readers; the Obsidian Center, to digitise collections; and Obsidian House, a recently purchased historic mansion that will be renovated and opened as a workshare space for Black creative talent on Chicago’s South Side.

Angela Ford, Founder of The Obsidian Collection Archives said: “Licensing the image allows you to use it, for instance, to write a book. But when we sell an NFT, that person now owns it and can possibly resell it, license it or make it a screensaver—whatever they want to do with it. The most important fact is these rarely seen collectables are made available to new generations in new mediums.”

To find out more about Martin Luther King Jr, click here.

Today is Martin Luther King Day which is a federal holiday in the United States. For white business leaders globally, acknowledging the day and its message of racial equality is a form of allyship which could make your Black and ethnic minority colleagues feel seen and supported.

Here are a few pointers to get you started on commemorating Martin Luther King Day in your firm.

  • Share an internal email commemorating the day, Dr King’s achievements, and your firm’s intention to become an anti-racist organisation
  • Hold lunch and learn sessions on workplace anti-racism and allyship featuring diversity and inclusion experts and even Black colleagues who might want to share their experiences
  • Open conversations about new and improved anti-racist programmes and policies at work, ensuring that Black staff are in decision-making positions in this process
  • Think about community fundraising projects your workforce could engage in, and consult Black colleagues on what would be suitable

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