I AM A CHILD / I AM A MAN
“These children–unoffending, innocent and beautiful–should never become victims of vicious crimes perpetrated against humanity.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. Sept. 18, 1963, Birmingham, ALin a eulogy delivered after the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.
Staged at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the site where the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., this portfolio was developed by creative director Paola Mendoza in partnership with Families Belong Together and photographer Kisha Bari to symbolize the perseverance and resistance against hatred in light of the continued separation of immigrant children from their parents crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and the recent threat to remove birthright citizenship.
To keep the human rights infringement against immigrant children at the forefront, Mendoza directed a photo shoot at the museum with descendants of the Memphis sanitation workers and children today to show the longstanding fight persists across generations. The photos depict a diverse group of men and children holding I AM A MAN andI AM A CHILD signs that demand acknowledgement of their humanity and dignity. The participants included Jesse Jones, son of AFSCME union organizer and striker leader Thomas Oliver “T.O.” Jones; men who were in Memphis in 1968; fathers with their children; and museum tour guides.
Dr. Noelle Trent, the museum’s Director of Interpretation, Collections and Education, commented, “The unfortunate parallel of the 1968 striking sanitation workers and children today demonstrates a lack of compassion and dignity for our fellow human beings. I AM A CHILD emphasizes that the community must come together to protect the civil and human rights of ALL children and people regardless of race, class, gender, religion, sexual identity, country of origin, or immigration status.”
The project also coincided with the 50th anniversary year of Dr. King’s assassination and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The museum will soon add the Memphis collection to its current I AM A CHILD photo exhibit. For more information, visit civilrightsmuseum.org.