January 31, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. Tattoos

Portrait by Remis Tattoo

On this day celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., I will try to refrain from my usual groaning over the search to find tattoos honoring the civil rights leader and coming up with more odes to rapper Old Dirty Bastard. [Do a Google image search on each to see what I mean.] 

Then I think of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream Speech" and I'm reminded to judge people by the "content of their character," not color of their skin -- whatever colors and characters people chose to mark their bodies with.

One of the greatest things about tattoos is that they inspire communication. People are naturally curious over what others painstakingly and permanently put in their own skins. We hunger for a good story ... and many of us hunger to tell one. A mother may want you to know that the name above her heart is her beloved daughter. The veteran with the memorial tattoo on his arm lets you know about the courage of his lost friend. My own tattoos are largely decorative but the patterns come from my Greek ancestry and places I've traveled. Buy me a drink and I have tons to talk about. This communicative value also allows for teaching moments. A Dr. King tribute speaks not only about the how the activist inspired the tattoo collector but may also educate another who does not know of King's life and legacy. 

It's powerful, what tattoos can do. And it's why I appreciate it when I do find tributes to inspiring figures, as they can be daily reminders to be better to each other and ourselves.

martin luther king tattoos.jpgTattoos (above left to right) by Joshua Carlton, Mike DeMasi, and Logan Aguilar.


martin luther king jr tattoo by jason grace.jpgTattoo above by Jason Grace.


colorblind tattoo.jpgMLK-inspired "Colorblind" tattoo above by Watson Atkinson on musician Killick Hinds. For the great story behind that tattoo, see our 2010 MLK post. [Photo by Louis Cahill.]

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