A photograph shows Martin Luther King Jr. flipping the bird at a photographer.
An old image purportedly showing Martin Luther King Jr. showing his middle finger in an unmistakable gesture to a photographer was thrown back into circulation in May 2017 by the “Classic Pics” Twitter account:
This image has been shared with a wide variety of commentary. For instance, it was once shared on the “Old School Cool” section of Reddit as a picture of a “legend,” and the white supremacist web site Daily Stormer has used this image to paint King in a negative light. Regardless of the original intent — the earliest iteration we could find was posted in January 2012 to a Blogspot site on a page of random and unrelated images — this image is not a real photograph.
The original photograph was taken on 19 June 1964, and showed King giving a peace sign (a hand gesture involving two fingers raised in a “v”) after hearing that the civil rights bill had passed the senate:
Another image, purportedly showing Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, and Malcolm X together, has also been popular on social media. Like this image, that photograph is also fake.
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.