on september 3, 1958, a twenty seven year old martin luther king jr was arrested for loitering outside a montgomery court room where a man was being arraigned for assaulting his friend and fellow organizer of the bus boycott, ralph abernathy. in january of that year, following the successful end of the boycott, abernathy’s house had been bombed.
this photo, taken by charles moore, shows king’s wife, coretta, calmly looking on as her husband, arm wrenched behind his back, is frogmarched to the local jailhouse for booking. when it was published the following day, journalists from all over america were dispatched to montgomery to cover the arrest.
king would be convicted two days after his arrest - not for loitering but for disobeying a police order - and fined fourteen dollars. though he would opt instead to serve fourteen days in jail, he would be almost immediately released thanks in part to the national attention.
charles moore would spend eight years chronically king and the civil rights movement with his camera. arthur schlesinger would later say that moore’s photographs “transformed the national mood and made legislation not just necessary, but possible.”