Best of Indie Spotlight: Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Until his assassination in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached nonviolent civil disobedience in the effort for racial equality. He marched and spoke against segregation, for the right to vote and for labor rights, and he became a national icon because of it.

Along the way, he spat out quite a few quotables, and many of them now adorn collectible memorabilia. Perhaps the most famous is from his “I Have a Dream Speech,” which King gave during his March on Washington; in it, he expressed his hope that his children wouldn’t be judged for the color of their skin, and people still quote him today. Some even print sections of it on t-shirts.

Many of these commemorative gifts can be gaudy and even vaguely offensive. Take the MLK loofah for example. Yes, a loofah, dubbed the Martin Loofah King, and whose backside reads, “I have a clean.”

Pretty bad, right? Well, we tried to sift through all the MLK memorabilia and show you the most tasteful handcrafted paintings, shirts and more.

psychedelictara - Rosa Sat Magnet

Rosa Sat Fridge Magnet
By psychedelictara

This fridge magnet chronicles 60 years of the civil rights movement in just one sentence: “Rosa sat so Martin could walk so Obama could run.” 

One Day
By Stacy V MacClain

This painting expands on what the magnet above tried to accomplish. Joining MLK and Barack Obama are civil rights advocates like W.E.B. Du Bois.

Stacy V. MacClain - One Day Painting
Ruby Lane - "Martin Luther King Photo " & " I Had a Dream" Vintage Brooch

Vintage Brooch “Martin Luther King Photo” and “I Had a Dream”
By Ruby Lane

This brooch, just over an inch in diameter, has MLK’s portrait on the face and, on the back, his famous line, which he used to open his 1963 speech, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

I Have a Dream T-shirt
By MLKjr2010

This t-shirt is available in black, white and off-white. It’s simple in design and positive in its message: two hands, one black and the other white, clasped together in the center.

MLKjr2010 - MLK T-shirt
Jeff Bowan - MLK shirt

Martin Luther King Shirt
By JeffBowan

This shirt’s a bit more understated: just MLK’s face adorns it, in black and white.  You can find the shirt in yellow, blue, green—pretty much any color you’d like.

Martin Luther King Jr – Keycon – Handmade Key chain icon
By Wood Pictures

This image sticks out because it’s rough but elegant. The artist took recycled wood and etched MLK’s face into the grain.

WoodPictures - MLK Keychain
Bobonart - MLK "I Have a Dream" Plate

Martin Luther King, Jr. Plate
By bobonart

This plate’s more stately than some of the other options out there, thanks to a simple oil painting of MLK in its center. King is painted in sober colors, and below him are the first few lines of his famous speech.

Martin Luther King Dangle Button Earrings
By Earring Stop

These border on over-the-top, but if there’s any day to wear ‘em, it’s MLK day. King’s head and shoulders sit on an American flag, and above him is the word “Freedom.

EarringsStop - MLK Button Earrings
EstrangedEphemera - MLK Assassination New York Times

MLK Jr. Assassination New York Times Front Page
By EstrangedEphemera

This is a reproduction of the New York Times cover story, which came out the day after MLK’s assassination.

Inspirational Quote
By saidthepelican

This 5” x 7” print reads, “I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear”—one of many of King’s quotable lines.

saidthepelican - MLK Inspirational Quote Print

Written by Michael Anderson, a freelance writer and contributor to NerdWallet Shopping.