For more than a decade, Alvin Jacobs Jr. has been documenting social justice issues and often his photographs show contrast in black and white, both in photography and in culture.
Through the images he captures, Jacobs connects with his viewers on an emotional level. Those emotions range from joy to sadness, covering any number in between, while his imagery is always undeniably strong.
“My point of entry was the shooting of Mark Barmore in 2009 by the Rockford Police Department in the basement of the church my mother attended,” Jacobs said.
Two Rockford Illinois police officers pursued Barmore into the day care of Kingdom Authority Church. A struggle ensued and Barmore was killed in the presence of children.
“Seeing how the city controlled the narrative of the shooting in 2009 was my calling to document an independent version of what has turned out to be my life’s work in the movement.”
Over the past 11 years Jacobs has been on the scene to document hundreds of demonstrations, with many revolving around social justice.
His work from the 2016 Keith Lamont Scott protests figured prominently in K(no)w Justice, K(no)w Peace, the long-running exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South. Another large project, Welcome to Brookhill, documenting life in an often-overlooked neighborhood on South Tryon Street, has been a featured exhibit at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.
2018 was also the year Jacobs was named Charlottean of the Year by Charlotte Magazine.
The year of 2020 has been another pivotal time for Jacobs’ work, when he traveled to Minnesota.
“Minneapolis was next and I had the time and just enough resources, which isn’t always the case,” he said. “I grew up in the Midwest so felt compelled to experience the political climate.”
His Instagram post from Minneapolis was wrought with emotion on the night of May 28. “Last night was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve been on the ground for years. Minneapolis is resisting and resistance is beautiful.”
On his second night in Minnesota, in the midst of cries for answers from the community and the thousands of protesters who had taken to the streets, Jacobs was again ready to watch and archive the script being written in Minneapolis.
With his camera strapped at the ready, Jacobs bent to tie his shoes and was accidentally knocked to the ground, twisting his ankle and damaging his camera.
For a salaried journalist on a company payroll, the injury to himself and his camera would probably be covered by insurance, but for Jacobs it meant a financial setback.
While he has emerged as a premier photographer and photo-documentarian, Jacobs has self-funded the majority of his work.
Months have gone by since Minnesota. Jacobs’ camera is still broken. He is unable to afford to have his ankle properly cared for by a physician, and he is struggling to stay afloat financially.
Even so, he continues to photograph the faces and events of astonishing people doing altruistic work in the community.
Friends of Jacobs have set up a GoFundMe fundraising page to support his work, replace his camera equipment and pay to find an answer to his physical injuries.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.
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