Boris Chaliapin (1904–1979)
Watercolor and pencil on board, 1957, after photograph by Walter Bennett
The success of the Montgomery bus boycott catapulted King into the national spotlight. In February 1957, Time featured his portrait on its cover and published an in-depth profile describing the twenty-eight-year-old pastor as “one of the nation’s remarkable leaders.” The article declared that “King reached beyond lawbooks and writs, beyond violence and threats, to win his people—and challenge all people––with a spiritual force that aspired even to ending prejudice in man’s mind.” When asked about the inspiration for his actions, King replied, “The spirit of passive resistance came to me from the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. The techniques of execution came from Gandhi.” Just a month before the Time article appeared, sixty black ministers from across the South had gathered at King’s invitation in Atlanta to co-found what became known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)—an organization dedicated to utilizing nonviolent direct action to challenge and defeat racism.