For the last several years I have volunteered to photograph the Oakhurst Mardi Gras Parade in my neighborhood. Proceeds from the festivities benefit the Decatur Education Foundation, a fantastic organization that supports youth and teachers in our community. Today the rain held off long enough for the parade to wind through Oakhurst Village and reach its destination at the Imperial. The kids above are from Oakhurst Elementary school. Their mascot is the owl.
The beginning of this New Year has been disheartening. Yet marching with my friends from Disability Link in the Martin Luther King Day parade was inspiring and uplifting. The King family led the way as people of all ages, ethnicities, races, religions and abilities came together to march for the civil rights of all.
In today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution, journalist Jeremy Redmon wrote an article which commented on a photograph he had snapped with his iPhone of Congressman John Lewis at the Atlanta airport on Saturday. Congressman Lewis was at the airport with hundreds of citizens, advocates and attorneys who were concerned about the refugees detained at the airport as a result of President Trump’s executive order banning refugees from entering the country. The photograph of Congressman Lewis was not particularly compelling, yet the story was. The image showed the 76-year-old civil rights icon sitting on a metal bench, hands clasped, looking patiently to his right. He had asked the federal immigration official how many refugees were being detained. When the official refused to provide information, Congressman Lewis told the crowd, “Why don’t we just sit down and stay a while.” Eventually, Congressman Lewis was briefed about the situation. The image above is a tribute to Congressman Lewis and all our citizens who had the courage to stand up and protest perceived injustice.
It is impossible to predict how the next four years will shape our country but I am certain about one thing. America will witness a “HUGE” surge in activism. The historic Woman’s March in DC last weekend was an indication that people are moved to unite to defend the civil rights of their family members, neighbors, and all those who call this great country home. I met Gus at the MLK March in Atlanta. He is a psychotherapist as well as an activist. He has been marching since 1968. He was one of many people who I met that were passionate about preserving social justice.
Now, more than ever, I seek inspiration when out photographing. Not only do I look for compelling subjects to photograph but I also yearn to hear their stories. I met Yvette Pegues on MLK Day in Atlanta as we marched with a group from disAbility Link. Yvette radiated beauty and grace, and her enthusiasm was contagious. She has overcome many obstacles in recovering from a traumatic brain injury which left her without the use of her legs. Yvette had to forfeit her dream, a full ride to Harvard’s PHD program, to fight for her own well-being and that of her family’s. Today, Yvette is an advocate for women, children, and all people living with a disability, as well as a professional speaker, life coach, author, and 1st responder. She won the distinction of being the first woman of color and Georgian to win the title of “Ms. Wheelchair USA”. In 2016 Yvette went on to win the International title.
The Pegues family believes that, “the scene of our greatest disappointment was the setting of our greatest miracle!” #YouAreAble
Over the past two weekends I had the pleasure of photographing the Oakhurst Fifth Avenue 5K and the Decatur High School Homecoming Parade in my community. I was drawn to photographing the young boy with the flag because he stood so tall and radiated great pride in holding what is a powerful symbol of America. In the lower image, no words are necessary to explain what this girl is feeling as she holds her hand over her heart during the performance of our national anthem. At this time during the presidential race, when the American people are being bombarded with disparaging remarks about our country, it is reaffirming to see the gratitude and pride that our citizens feel for the place we call home.
This young man is a poet who is traveling across the United States with his typewriter. He composes haikus for anyone who is willing to pay a modest fee.
As a result of my participation in the Airport Show I was interviewed by Spencer Sloan from APG. To view the Q & A visit the link below.