Photographer captured MLK's "inner light"

MIAMI - People are getting their first look this week at the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It will be dedicated Sunday, the 48th anniversary of his "I Have a Dream Speech."

CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts reports many of the images of King that day and throughout the civil rights struggle were captured by photographer Bob Adelman.

On August 28th, 1963 a quarter million people gathered in one place and heard about a dream. Carrying his camera, Adelman was intent on capturing the march and the mood. "There was a sense of enthusiasm and confidence that things were going to change," Adelman says.

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To catch that feeling, Adelman wanted to be close to the podium and Dr. King. "I snuck up there. I crawled up I climbed up there," Adelman said. "I knew that his speech would be - I mean no one did it better than he did."

The only photographer on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that day Adelman snapped one of history's most iconic images -- of the man he called "Doc."

The picture of King addressing the crowd in Washington is "one of the great moments in my life, and certainly in Doc's life."

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Adelman had spent nearly a decade documenting the brutality of southern segregation. He recalled showing King his photo of a group of young people bearing the harsh blows of hatred.

Adelman said King looked at the photo for a long time. "He stared at it, and then he said he was startled that out of so much pain, some beauty came," Adelman said. "Image talking that poetically, but that is how he could talk."

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He went on to take hundreds of images of King, his passion, and of scenes of protest and reflection.

"What I most wanted to capture," Adelman said, "in Doc was that inner light."

Adelman also saw through his lens a man with a premonition. "He was always looking around. He didn't know where and when, but he knew it was coming."

"It was your sense he knew," Pitts asked.

"Oh yeah. He'd talk about it quite openly."

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Nearly fifty years after King's assassination, Adelman still is pained by the loss. "He was the greatest person I knew.

Now 80, Adelman retired to Florida. But the man he captured with his lens -- never ages -- and never loses his power to move.

  • Byron Pitts

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