©Estate of Charles Alston
Two years after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles Alston was commissioned by Reverend Donald Harrington to create a bust of the late civil rights leader for the Community Church of New York. In turn, Alston made five casts, one of which was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery. This cast was later lent to the White House in 1990, where it was placed in the White House Library. This marked the first time an image of an African American was on display at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In 2009, when Barack Obama took the Office of the President, the bust was then moved into the Oval Office -- where it could be seen in the background of photographs while the President met and talked with White House officials, visiting dignitaries, veterans, and activist groups, among others. The NPG bust has remained in the Oval Office since Obama's presidency, and a second bust can be found in the collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.