Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department, said the famed photographer was found dead in his Miami home on Saturday. The cause of death hasn’t been determined. There were no signs of forced entry, but police are asking neighbors for information. Adelman was found with a head wound.
The photographer was born in Brooklyn and studied philosophy at Columbia University, where he joined the civil rights group the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE. His interest in the Civil Rights Movement peaked when he watched performances from the late Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker in the late ’40s. Soon after, he took part in his first student sit-in movement.
From there, his activism turned into photography, and he began taking photos of King, Malcolm X, and other prominent Black leaders. Adelman shot the iconic photo of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. He also photographed artists such as Andy Warhol and continued his passion for protest through the women’s liberation and LGBT movements.
Speaking with NPR in 2008, Adelman described the photo above, which featured four civil rights activists holding hands as they were sprayed with hoses by the police.
“A single individual could not stand up [to the cannons],” Adelman said. “But as a group, they could. And it became emblematic. That picture was used actually as part of the recruiting for the march on Washington.”
His photos continue to leave their mark on display at the Smithsonian, Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Margaret Mitchell House, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, The Miami Herald reports.
Adelman was still traveling and discussing his life’s work up until 2012. In 2014, the exhibition titled The Movement: Bob Adelman and Civil Rights Era Photography, was presented at the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale.
Adelman leaves behind a daughter, who currently resides in Canada.