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Martin Luther King, Jr. Signed Photograph to Philadelphia’s First Black Deputy Police Commissioner Up For Auction

A Martin Luther King, Jr. signed photograph presented to Philadelphia’s first black deputy police commissioner will be auctioned by Boston-based Remarkable Rarities Auction.

The vintage semi-glossy photo of Reverend King, his lapel bearing a pin that reads, “I Believe in Human Dignity,” is signed and inscribed, “To Captain Edwards, With Warm Personal Regards, Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity and a letter of provenance from the recipient’s son, stating that this “signed photo was a gift to my late father, Richard T. Edwards, during the mid-1960s. Dr. King presented this autographed photo to Captain Edwards for directing the security detail on his visits to Philadelphia. In 1964 my father was named Deputy Police Commissioner of Philadelphia, the first African-American to ever achieve such position.”

Archivally matted and framed; the photograph has already surpassed the conservative pre-auction estimate: $5,000+.

Among other featured items is an original “I Am A Man” poster — the iconic slogan of the Civil Rights Movement. The poster was printed in 1968 by the Tea Lautrec Litho print shop, with “Memphis” underneath the prominent main text. 1968 Emerson Graphics – 243 Collins Street. San Francisco 94118 / Mail Order $1.25 (Quantity Prices On Request).”

The “I Am A Man” phrase was made famous with the Memphis sanitation strike of February-April 1968. Shortly after two workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker were crushed to death in the back of their garbage truck, as many as 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis walked off the job in protest of horrible working conditions and racist discrimination by the city.

Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to Memphis to support the strike as part of his Poor People’s Campaign, speaking before a large crowd on March 18 and leading a mass demonstration on the 28th. Mayor Henry Loeb III imposed martial law and brought in 4,000 National Guard troops.

The following day, over 200 striking workers continued their daily march, carrying the iconic signs that read: “I Am A Man.” The slogan emerged as a unifying theme, and this poster has become one of the enduring images of the Civil Rights Movement. (Estimate: $6,000+)

Hosted live from RR Auctions New Hampshire offices, this installment of our annual elite Remarkable Rarities sale is one for the ages. From extraordinary Civil Rights Movement artifacts to handwritten equations by Albert Einstein, these specially curated materials are sure to astound the most discerning collector. Sketches by Cezanne and Magritte. Letters from Edgar Allan Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. A lock of Lincoln’s hair, folded into a historically significant telegram from the night of April 14, 1865. Beethoven and the Beatles. A brief history of world culture is presented in the live sale.

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