Mel D. Cole – American Protest Photographs 2020-2021
In April 2020, during the early days of the COVID pandemic lockdowns, photographer Mel D. Cole started driving around New York City documenting the streets. This almost therapeutic exercise became a call to action upon the murder of George Floyd, and Cole dedicated the rest of 2020 to photographing the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country. In addition to canvassing the action in New York City, Cole traveled to cover protests in Washington, DC, and Richmond, Virginia. The body of work he has produced from that electrifying summer is a powerful outpouring of the hurt, outrage, and courage of people compelled to take action following the brutal death of George Floyd. Inspired by the black-and-white documentary tradition of the 1960s, Cole seeks to create what he calls “a collective memory” that continues the legacy of the civil rights movement. That historical through-line is a bitter reminder of the oppression and resistance that continues today.
Cole has said, “Shooting the Black Lives Matter movement is the most important work of my entire life. It meant the world to me to document and do this service. This is what I have, this is what I can bring to the table, and it’s my eye, my platform to tell the stories.”