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. 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. “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.
“Obsidian will be the gateway to historic black NFTs such as this,” said Ford. “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.