In June 2018, Paola Mendoza created the I AM A CHILD concept to protest the Trump Administration's 'Zero Tolerance Policy' of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Inspired by Ernest Withers' photograph from 1968 of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, the initial I AM A CHILD photo shoot with photographer, Kisha Bari and producer Becky Morrison occurred in New York City on the steps of Immigration and Customs Enforcement building featuring 40 children, ages three to ten.
The world was outraged and the photos quickly went viral on social media with the quote:
' A child is a child no matter what country they were born in. A child is a child even when they cross the border. A child's desire to stay with their parents is a human right. In homage to the iconicI AM A MAN photo. I am proud to presentI AM A CHILD #FamiliesBelongTogether' - Paola Mendoza
Through social media, The National Civil Rights Museum approached Paola Mendoza about installing a rapid response installation which opened on July 26, 2018 as part of a national day of action. This exhibit is open until December 31, 2018.
Through this initial installation, a collaboration with Paola Mendoza, Kisha Bari, The National Civil Rights Museum and Families Belong Together was formed to create the I AM A MAN / I AM A CHILD series on the site of Dr Martin Luther King's assassination.
Paola Mendoza is an accomplished film director, activist and author. A co-founder of TheWomen’s March, she served as its Artistic Director and co-authored the New YorkTimes best seller Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World. Mendoza is a critically acclaimed film director whose films have premiered at the most prestigious film festivals around the world. Her films have continually tackled the effects of poverty and immigration on women and children in the United States. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and is a Tribeca All Access, Film Independent and Independent Film Week fellow. She is a co-founder of The Soze Agency and has been the creative director for campaigns fighting for immigration reform, criminal justice reform, incarcerated mother’s and women’s rights. She is a co-founder and ArtisticDirector of the critically acclaimed, Resistance Revival Chorus.
Kisha Bari is an award-winning photographer based in New York who is passionate about capturing people through portraiture and visual storytelling with a focus on humanitarian issues. She has worked with a range of subjects from America’s union workers to Native American leaders, and from world-renowned ballet dancers to rockstars.
Kisha was three times featured in solo exhibitions at Photoville, New York City’s biggest photo festival; her portrait documentary How Sandy Hit Rockaway (2013), ReSisters : Behind the Scenes of the Women’s March (2017) and most recently ‘The Meaning of Now: Living Life with Cancer (2018).
Her work has been published by numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, NPR , Elle andCosmopolitan Magazine.
In Collaboration with The National Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Motel
Located at the historic Lorraine Motel where civilrights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, gives acomprehensive overview of the American Civil Rights Movement from 1619 to thepresent. Since the Museum opened in 1991, millions of visitors from around theworld have come, including more than 90,000 students annually. Serving as thenew public square, the Museum is steadfast in its mission to chroniclethe American civil rights movement, examine today’s global civil and humanrights issues, provoke thoughtful debate and serve as a catalyst for positivesocial change.
ASmithsonian Affiliate and an internationally acclaimed cultural institution,the Museum was recognized as TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 5% U.S. Museum,USA Today's Top 10 Best American Iconic Attractions; Top 10 Best HistoricalSpots in the U.S. by TLC's Family Travel; Must See by the Age of 15 byBudget Travel and Kids; Top 10, American Treasures by USA Today; andBest Memphis Attraction by The Commercial Appeal andthe Memphis Business Journal.
Supported by Families Belong Together
Families Belong Together includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families.
Led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Women’s Refugee Commission, Moms Rising, FWD.us, United We Dream, People’s Action, ACLU, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MoveOn and others, the coalition has raised millions of dollars for immigrant children and families, mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in all 50 states to take action, and helped to reunite thousands of families.
Families Belong Together continues its work to permanently end family separation and detention, seek accountability for the harm that’s been done, and immediately reunite all families who remain torn apart.