While online, my wife and I came across Rosa Parks’ 1956 Booking Photo for participating in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We then felt the need to find MLK’s “mug shot” as well.

The news media’s glossed over treatment of Parks’ historic stand against white supremacist segregation became more apparent to me as I looked at these two images. To view them and not reflect upon the prison industrial complex is to have a willful naivete to how even then, prison was not created for rehabilitation.

It seems that in the final years of King’s life, his stays in prison in the early years of protest may have informed his eventual indictment of the American criminal justice system as a racist institution:

“When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also declare that the white man does not abide by law in the ghettos. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions of civil services.”

“The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them, but they do not make them, any more than a prisoner makes a prison.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967



Rosa Parks and MLK were photographed by Alabama Police Offers following their arrests during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. At the time, Parks was 43 and King was 27. These photos were discovered in July 2004 by a deputy cleaning out a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department storage room. It is unclear when the notations “DEAD” and “4-4-68” were written on the picture of King.