Artist Nikkolas Smith‘s image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (pictured) wearing a hoodie, a reference to the Trayvon Martin case, went viral this week.
Titled, “April 4, 1968” (the day King was assassinated), the image appears on a web gallery of posters supporting gun control. The image quickly spread through social media sites, after former President Barack Obama adviser Van Jones re-tweeted the image following the verdict.
Nikkolas Smith, the image’s creator, says he wanted to spark discussion about stereotypes of Black men in hoodies, when the Martin case first broke.
“There was this whole national outcry, a hoodie movement and everybody was rocking their hoods and everything,” Smith told Buzzfeed. “Just trying to get that message out there about what is considered suspicious. Is my Black skin considered suspicious?”
Smith says the image is important because “MLK is the most-iconic figure.”
Hoodies have become a rallying symbol in the year since Martin’s murder. He was wearing one when neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman followed and confronted him in a Sanford, Fla., gated community on February 26, 2012. This caused a scuffle, leading to Zimmerman fatally shooting Martin in the heart.
Zimmerman was found not guilty on second-degree and manslaughter charges Saturday, sparking mass demonstrations across the country.