'It was a life-changing experience' - Newsday photographer reminisces about encounter with MLK

On Sept. 2, 1967, about seven months before he was assassinated, King was bike riding on Fire Island. Longtime Newsday photographer Stan Wolfson was given the assignment that day to meet him at the ferry slip.

News 12 Staff

Jan 20, 2021, 2:07 AM

Updated 1,271 days ago

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A Newsday photographer who was an eyewitness to history is telling the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1960s civil rights movement.
On Sept. 2, 1967, about seven months before he was assassinated, King was bike riding on Fire Island. Longtime Newsday photographer Stan Wolfson was given the assignment that day to meet him at the ferry slip.
"It was a life-changing experience for me," says Wolfson. "I had the opportunity to meet someone who was obviously becoming quite famous for what he was trying to accomplish at the time."
Wolfson says Dr. King made two stops on Fire Island that day -- the bike riding photos were taken in Seaview.
Newsday says King was also on Long Island in 1962 for a human rights event in Garden City. In 1965, he was in Lakeview seeking support for the civil rights movement and at Hofstra University a month later to give a commencement speech.
During the 1967 trip to Fire Island, Wolfson, who had been working for Newsday for about a year, says King was there to meet people and raise money.
"He just went to the bicycle on his own, there was nobody prompting him to it ... and he just takes off on the bicycle, which was from a photographer's standpoint, it was just dynamite," says Wolfson. "I mean you couldn't ask for more. You couldn't stage something that perfect."
Wolfson, who spent almost 40 years documenting history for Newsday, says when he looks back on his career, he thinks about how he was just doing his job but can now appreciate how the images resonate.
"Even with the problems Dr. King had, I was able to be up close and personal with him and today you would never get that chance," says Wolfson. "My grandchildren are amazed to have come and seen the pictures that their over the hill grandfather has taken these pictures during the course of his life."


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