‘Our job is to be part of this struggle in a very positive way’

Photographer and National Geographic Storytelling Fellow Ruddy Roye traces his passion for social justice to his native Jamaica.

“We’ve had enough,” said Nicole Harney, at a June 1 New York City protest with her son, Justin Withers. Wearing T-shirts honoring George Floyd, they paused by a mural of Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman. Harney said she broke down watching the video of Floyd calling for his mother as he died. After that, she said, “I could not stay on Twitter or any other platform. I had to come march outside.”

My sons are 15 and 12. We don’t do it every day, but frequently we sit down and talk about events. We talked about George Floyd, because I was in Houston to photograph the funeral after George died May 25 with a policeman’s knee on his neck.

I started out by saying to them that when I was allowed to go into the church and photograph George, I did not photograph him for 12 minutes. Like, people were behind me going, Dude, let’s go. You know, the line of people waiting.

But for me it was important to tell George’s body thanks. Thanks for his life. Thanks for the opportunities that we’re all going to get because of his death. Thanks for what is going to shift the narrative, what’s going to be changed because of his death. And it was important to do that.

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