These images are part of the work we’ve had the privilege to do alongside Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative.
We have learned a lot from Bryan along the way. Most importantly, we’ve come to understand that unless we reckon with our history of racial injustice, we will never truly move forward as a nation.
As Human Pictures, we believe that the uprisings taking place this past week are precisely a deep cry for that reckoning— forcing us to contend with a history of racial terror that continues today through the policing, looting and destruction of black bodies by those sworn to serve and protect them.
We stand with the protesters; we stand with their grief, their rage, and their resolute will to transform a broken system.
As we consume the images from these uprisings, let us not fall prey to sanitized allusions of the Civil Rights Movement. Let us not forget Dr. King was above all a disruptor of the peace, a law-breaker, a stern challenger of the status quo, and a fierce fighter for a more just society. He was also an unpopular man; the majority of Americans did not approve of his methods. And, finally, let us not forget that the Movement he and others led, was successful in pushing for the Civil Rights Act in part due to the pressure exerted by other movements that were challenging white supremacy by any means necessary.
So before you invoke Dr. King’s name in criticizing the protests, before you nod disapprovingly at the “the destructive power of despair,” think carefully what side of history you want to be standing on at the end of the day.
Human Pictures joins in the cry for justice for Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Aubrey, and George Floyd, and in the call to transform the current, broken system of policing and imagine something different—something that learns from our troubled history and serves and protects all of our communities.