Thich Quang Duc & Malcolm Browne. Part 2: A Timeless Protest
The Venerable Thich Qu?ng ??c Monument at the intersection where Qu?ng ??c performed his self-immolation, Phan ?ình Phùng (now Nguy?n ?ình Chi?u) Street and Lê V?n Duy?t (now Cach M?ng Thang Tam) Street. CC BY-SA 4.0 July 12, 1963, New York. 15 hours earlier photographer Michale Browne had captured the …
July 12, 1963, New York. 15 hours earlier photographer Michale Browne had captured the moment when Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc set himself on fire in front of the Cambodian embassy in Indochine. Browne’s film roll has been developed in the Philippines and the images sent to San Francisco and New York, where the morning papers rushed to print the breaking news from a far away land named Indochina.
While Browne’s film was flying across the world, the remains of 67-year-old Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc were being seized by the police in Sai Gon. Soon enough they were reclaimed by thousands of demonstrators and given back to the monks so he could have a proper ceremony. The body of Thich Quang Duc burned again finally turning into ashes, but the raging flames couldn’t take Quang Duc’s body completely. Left in the ashen heap, was a heart — black and solid. It had turned to stone and remained behind.
Browne’s image, now known as the “The Ultimate Protest”, shocked the world and turned its eyes towards Vietnam. It is said that President Kennedy was so shocked by Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation that he switched his Vietnam strategy. Soon the photo would gain international recognition, and earn Michael Browne a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.
57 years have passed since that day in Sai Gon, Thich Quang Duc’s petrified heart remains in Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City as one of the most sacred symbols of sacrifice and Michael Browne’s photo lives in our culture as one of the most symbolic acts of protests in History. The bravery and selflessness of Thich Quang Duc shook many and Michael Browne’s shocking photography helped making Quang Duc’s message of love and hope, timeless and universal.