Student Documents Local Black Lives Matter Movement

People gathered at  Roc City Speaks event to listen to a speaker

SUNY Brockport graduate student Rashaad Parker received a $46,500 award for his community-led project to capture the local Black Lives Matter movement through visual media.

A Brockport alum and current VSW MFA student’s community-led project to capture the local Black Lives Matter movement through photos and videos has received a grant from Rochester Area Community Foundation.

The project is the first to receive partial funding from the Foundation’s Arts Prevail Fund, which seeks to document the racial justice protests that began after the murder of George Floyd and escalated in August with news of the March killing of Daniel Prude while in the custody of Rochester police. The $46,500 grant—also supported by the Foundation’s Robertson Family Fund and the Community Impact Fund—was awarded to Visual Studies Workshop as a fiscal sponsor for the project.

The collection of hundreds of photographs and video clips will serve as a historical archive of events as they are unfolding in Rochester through the production of community exhibits and a long-form documentary in the future, according to Rashaad Parker, who is serving as the project coordinator. Parker is working with a team of Black, Indigenous; People of Color (BIPOC) photographers Cocoa Rae David, Isaiah Santiago, Sean Dell Boose (South Town Images), Carina Christman, and Elijah Ross. The videographers are Bertram Torres (Mood Lit Images), Rashad Scott (The Renaissance NY), and Devin Anglin (Static Vibrations Network).

A second component of the project is the curation of several video segments titled “ROC City Speaks,” aimed at disseminating on-the-street interviews with protestors directly to the public versus having them be filtered or edited by mainstream media channels. The segments, which will become part of art installations at local galleries, also provide a call to action to encourage more local residents to join the movement in solidarity.

“The people of this community have had enough of status quo politics and have a lot to say about dealing with the pandemic of racism in Rochester while also simultaneously dealing with the coronavirus pandemic,” Parker said.

An exhibition of the ROC City Speaks project directed by Parker will be part of his MFA thesis in Visual Studies at Visual Studies Workshop in association with SUNY Brockport.

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