I’ve often looked at, and thought about this photograph I took at a Black Lives Matter protest in Indianapolis in July, 2016.
It was a warm, sunny summer evening, around sunset. I arrived about half an hour early and there weren’t many people gathered on the lawn of the Indiana Capitol, yet.
I almost walked past the trio above, but something made me stop. I thought they created an excellent image of the Black Lives Matter Movement…poised, stressed and tired, respectful, determined, nonviolent, hurt, angry, but very, very intent and serious.
It was important to me that I ask for their permission to take this photo, something I didn’t usually do then at public events. These days I no longer take photos that show people’s faces, because law enforcement uses such photos to bring charges.
They each considered my request for a moment, then each, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, indicated that would be permissible. I knelt in front of them, framed and then shot the photo, and thanked them. Silent nods, but also slight smiles.
I like each of the facial expressions, the story each person’s posture tells, and the raised fist salute. I like the sense of support, leaning in toward each other. I like the messages on the signs.
But the reason I keep coming back to this is because I also feel a real challenge from them to me/us. I think they are saying “we’ve taken the time and effort (and I would say courage) to come out in public to support our community and each other, and demand that these injustices stop.”
And they seem to be asking me/us, “what are you going to do? Do you have a little courage yourself? Will you make yourself, and others uncomfortable by speaking the truth about these things?”