Tip of The Blade

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. 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!

From Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”. Delivered April 3, 1968, Mason Temple Memphis, Tennessee, the day before he was assassinated.

In this speech, Dr. King acknowledges his precarious position as a highly targeted, controversial public figure. He was fully aware of the possibility of death, and was remarkably prophetic in addressing this in several speeches. In this speech, King reflects upon an incident that occurred ten years earlier, in Harlem. During the signing of his book Stride Toward Freedom, Izola Curry stabbed Dr. King in the chest, placing him at the threshold of death. King recounts that the “tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery.”

The works that comprise “Tip of the Blade” focus on this precarious threshold, as well as the idea of Dr. King living moment to moment. The painting, “I may not get there with you. (present within the threshold)” presents line drawings of images of Dr. King in Harlem Hospital after the stabbing and a sequence of images taken from the video of “I’ve been to the Mountaintop.” The image on the lower right is the moment when he steps down from the podium after the speech into a waiting embrace.

The primary source for this project was the book When Harlem Nearly Killed King by Hugh Pearson, Seven Stories Press, 2002

  • Tip of the blade. (crossing the threshold)

    Tip of the blade. (crossing the threshold)
    H: 64” x W: 72”, Pen, Fabric, Wood

  • I may not get there with you. (present within the threshold)

    I may not get there with you. (present within the threshold)
    H: 84” x W: 60”, Pen, Colored pencil, Crayon, Fabric, Wood.

  • Chest cavity, cross scar (only when it is dark enough can you see the stars)
    H: 35.5” x W: 35.5”, Colored Pencil, Acrylic, Fabric, Wood.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. (Stride Towards Freedom)
    H: 10” x W: 20”, Pen Colored Pencil, Paper

  • Martin Luther King Jr. (Embrace after “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”, 1 second apart)
    H: 10” x W: 26”, Pen, Paper.

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