Obsidian Collection Offers Newly Minted NFTs of Rare Photos of Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses residents in an alley behind an apartment building on Chicago’s West Side. King came to Chicago in 1966 to
challenge slum conditions and racist policies. This historic moment was
captured by legendary photographer John Tweedle, the first African American photographer to be hired by a major metropolitan daily newspaper.
This and other rare photos of King taken by Tweedle are being offered
as NFTs by the Obsidian Collection to be sold in the NFT marketplace.
Obsidian Images.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses residents in an alley behind an apartment building on Chicago’s West Side. King came to Chicago in 1966 to challenge slum conditions and racist policies. This historic moment was captured by legendary photographer John Tweedle, the first African American photographer to be hired by a major metropolitan daily newspaper. This and other rare photos of King taken by Tweedle are being offered as NFTs by the Obsidian Collection to be sold in the NFT marketplace. Obsidian Images.

Obsidian Collection Offers Newly Minted NFTs of Rare Photos of Dr. Martin Luther King

The Obsidian Collection is evolving its consumer-
facing digital photo portal, Obsidian Images, to offer
NFTs of rare photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
during his historic visit to Chicago in 1966. Captured by
the legendary John Tweedle, the first African American
photographer hired by a major metropolitan newspaper,
the NFTs chronicle King challenging Chicago’s slumlords,
institutional racism, and Mayor Richard J. Daley himself,
as well as King speaking to a crowd at Soldier Field and a
fundraiser for the movement at Chicago’s iconic International
Amphitheatre that drew locals and celebrities alike,
including Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Mahalia
Jackson.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital images that
can be bought and sold using blockchain technology. Obsidian
initially will offer five images by Tweedle that are
part of an extensive collection owned by author, entrepreneur
and philanthropist Hermene Hartman, publisher of
N’Digo magazine and NDigo.com, and the host of N’Digo
Studio, a television show and podcast. The images were
bequeathed to Hartman by Tweedle’s widow following
his death in 1981. Hartman published the photographs in
the 1983 book “A Lasting Impression: A Collection of
Photographs of Martin Luther King Jr.” with foreword by
Jesse Jackson Jr. The NFTs of King will be auctioned in
the NFT marketplace.

“We always talk about King, the Southerner, but people
forget that Dr. King came to Chicago and disrupted our city,”
said Hartman, recalling he rented a slum apartment on the West
Side to improve conditions for its residents.

Dr. King took a liking to Tweedle and they developed a relationship, Hartman said. “He let John up close and personal.
Consequently, he took photos no one else had opportunities to
take.”

Tweedle uniquely wore five cameras around his neck for
the various news organizations he shot for, including The Daily
News, Jet magazine, the Chicago Defender and the Chicago Sun- Times. “One of those was John’s personal camera,” Hartman said. “These are those photos.”

The Obsidian Collection was developed and launched in
2017 by Chicago entrepreneur and Executive Director Angela
Ford. Obsidian is digitizing archival images and content from
Black photographers, organizations and newspapers for licensing and permission to use to tell Black stories. The images’ original owners retain ownership and receive a majority of the profits. NFTs operate under different rules, and Obsidian Images has created a separate microsite for its NFTs to be displayed before they are auctioned in the NFT marketplace.

“Obsidian will be the gateway to historic black NFTs
such as this,” said Ford. She added her favorite from Tweedle’s
collection is one of Dr. King standing on a wooden balcony of
an apartment facing an alley packed with supporters. “People
identify those wooden back porches as Chicago.”

Ford explains the difference between licensing an image and
an NFT. “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 collectibles are made available to new generations in new mediums.”

The Obsidian Collection is a virtual portal for Black culture
providing access to images of historical, artistic and cultural
significance gathered from Black newspapers, photographers,
archives and community groups around the country. It includes
Obsidian Images; Obsidian WROTE, an online platform that allows Black writers to be discovered by media outlets and content seekers; the Obsidian Center, to digitize collections; and coming up, 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. 

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