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illustrator london ladd and the cover of march on London Ladd and the cover of the book he illustrated, March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World. (Photos courtesy London Ladd (left) and Scholastic Press (right))

Historic March Comes to Life

March On! illustrator walks in the footsteps of 1963

By Jeremy Sutton | January 12 , 2010

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is more than an inspirational civil rights leader to artist London Ladd. As illustrator of March On!, a children's book about King's most famous peace march, Ladd began to think of King as the father figure he never had.

"Dr. King was an African American man I could look up to and admire for his courage and bravery and what he was able to achieve," Ladd said in a recent interview with the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "Martin Luther King was an educated man who stood up for what he believes in, even at the expense of his life. That was something I admired and it was just a joy to be a part of a project about him."

March On!, which was published by Scholastic Press in 2008, is written by Dr. King's sister, Christine King Farris. She wrote about what Dr. King was like both as a boy and a brother. She wrote about his inspiring words and speeches, things that made an impact on Ladd as he worked on illustrating her words.

Ladd went to the site of the march Dr. King led in Washington, D.C., in 1963, and walked in the footsteps of the people who where there during King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Ladd had never been to the nation's capital before.

"It was truly inspiring to be there—just to be around people who all shared the same dream, the same vision," he said. "They wanted people to be treated the same, regardless of race."

When asked about his greatest challenge in illustrating the book, which is geared towards kids ages 9 to 12 years old, Ladd explained his goals to "recreate" the day.

"I wanted just to be there and just get an insider's sneak peek during that day," Ladd said.

Being an illustrator gives you the freedom to create, he explained.

"I enjoy being able to have a living doing something I love: drawing, painting and creating," he said. "I carry my sketchbook everywhere I'm going and if I see something that inspires me, I can always draw it and eventually paint it."

His job also helps bring to life important moments in history.

Be sure to check out Jeremy's review of March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World and a March On! video presentation featuring the artwork London Ladd did for the book!

CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH

For more on the achievements and contributions of African Americans to U.S. History, return to the Scholastic Kids Press Corps' Black History Month Special Report.

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