“Blue Rose of Remembrance for Black Lives Gone Too Soon” follows the practice previously established with my “Breaking the Gridlock of Hate” and “Kaleidoscope Moon” series at Fine Art America. The plan was to debut images from the new “Too Many Lives Gone Too Soon” collection closer to New Year’s Eve but 2 developments prompted the decision to do it now. The first was learning that yet another unarmed young African-American man had been killed, and his girlfriend shot twice, by a policeman under questionable circumstances. The second was becoming aware of the #EndSARS protests, during which more than 100 people have been killed, against police brutality in Nigeria.
The date of October 20, 2020, has become known as “Black Tuesday” in Nigeria because that is when at least 48 people were killed after gathering at Lagos’s Lekki toll gate to protest the overtly brutal tactics of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The shooting of 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and his 20-year-old girlfriend Tafarra Williams in the U.S. state of Illinois also occurred on October 20. Hard to believe two countries as different as the U.S. and Nigeria would be struggling to correct such similar social atrocities but there it is.
We can’t really know the exact number of American Black Men, Women, and Children who have lost their lives to faulty police procedures or intentional racial bias over the past few years because not all come to public attention. In this recent incident, Marcellis Stinnette reportedly was sitting in the passenger seat of a car in which Tafarra Williams, a mother of two, was the driver. No weapons were found in the car. The police officer said he opened fire because he was approaching the vehicle on foot when it appeared to be put in reverse and he feared for his life.
The beauty of remembrance when it comes to lives ended prematurely is that it helps preserve not only the sense of love experienced in regard to the departed, but the feeling of hope that whatever promises their lives held will somehow be fulfilled through memories of them. It is presented here in the style of an oversized close-up surrounded by different flora symbolic of different yet interrelated human stories.
Harlem Renaissance Centennial
Author of Greeting Flannery O’Connor at the Back Door of My Mind