African American minister Jesse Jackson emerged as one of several influential national civil rights leaders following the assassination of his mentor, Martin Luther King Jr., in 1968. At the time, he was working for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as the national chairman of Operation Breadbasket, focusing his efforts on the economic empowerment of blacks. In 1970 Time magazine commissioned Jacob Lawrence to paint this cover portrait for an issue devoted to the role of contemporary black leaders in the continuing struggle for equality under the law. The selection of this mainstream African American artist was appropriate. While not known for his work as a portrait painter, part of Lawrence's reputation had come from his dual series of narrative works, produced from 1938 to 1940, illustrating the lives of two major black figures in the nineteenth-century fight for freedom-Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.