Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018: The Story Behind the Google Doodle

Cannaday Chapman produced Monday's doodle.


Google has revealed a special doodle to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The federal holiday, introduced by president Ronald Reagan in 1983, honors the tireless work of King to further the civil rights movement in the United States. The company has a history of commemorative homepages sketches, including ones for the anniversary of the hole punch as well as figures like Gertrude Jekyll and Max Born, but Monday’s sketch holds a special meaning to the artist.

The doodle was produced by guest artist Cannaday Chapman. Born in Huntington, West Virginia, he received a BFA in Illustration from New York’s School of Visual Arts. His work has been featured in galleries in the United States and Italy, and previous clients include the New Yorker, the New York Times and GQ Magazine.

“As a black man, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for [Martin Luther King] and the brave people of the civil rights movement,” Chapman told Google in an interview.

Chapman worked with the Black Googlers Network, one of the over 20 employee resource groups aimed at supporting company diversity. Employees assist with events like Black History month and mentoring, either through a voluntary basis or in the “20 percent time” where people are encouraged to work on other beneficial projects during their working day.

The doodle evokes King’s speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. In the speech, he said that he dreamt of a day when his children would not be judged on the color of their skin. The image depicts a young black girl, on her father’s shoulders, listening to King’s speech with the Washington Monument in the background.

Chapman produced a number of drafts before settling on the final design:

Draft versions of the final image.


Read the full interview between Google and Chapman below:

What does MLK and MLK day mean to you personally?
Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is especially relevant today and will be relevant for the remainder of civilization. Dr. King is most remembered for fighting for the rights of African Americans, but he fought for the rights of all Americans. He believed in fairness and equity for everyone. As a black man, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for him and the brave people of the civil rights movement.
What were your first thoughts when you were approached for this project?
I felt very honored to have the opportunity to pay tribute to one of America’s bravest leaders. I was pretty busy when I was approached for this assignment, but it’s Google and Martin Luther King Jr. That’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
I was inspired by people. It may appear that this movement or any civil rights movement was brought about by one person, but it’s the people that have the power to bring change. I wanted to make an image about those people.
What message would you like for people to get after seeing the Doodle?
I would like people to reflect on this moment in history. I would like people to remember that current events and our actions today will shape the future generations of tomorrow. What kind of example do we want to set for our children and our children’s children?
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