Eunique Jones Gibson: Because Of Them We Can
Gordon Parks discussed using his camera as a weapon against segregation, racism, and opposition. Nina Simone spoke adamantly about using art to reflect the times.
As a photographer and cultural architect, Eunique Jones Gibson’s vision further reminds us why the messages and works of the aforementioned artists hold such significance. With her virtual campaign, Because of Them We Can, she creates art with intent to curate discussion, educate and shine light on the uplifting contributions made by Black people.
“My responsibility as an artist and as a mother, and Black citizen in general is to actually reflect the greatness. I think there are tons of different art that’s out there but I don’t think we see enough of the positive as it pertains to African Americans in the marginalized communities,” Gibson assesses.
Going beyond the one month designated to celebrate Black history and exceeding the surface of what’s taught in classrooms, Because Of Them We Can was launched in 2013 with a mission to empower the next generation while encouraging them to honor the legacy of their ancestors through their own pursuit of greatness. Through a series of vignettes, Gibson collaborates with youth to bring the stories of our past and present to the forefront on a grand scale.
For example, when Stacey Dash stirred controversy with her provocative statements about ending Black History Month, Gibson and her group of young people took the opportunity to flip the conversation and highlight just why the celebration is still needed in a video response that garnered three-million Facebook views.
“We see Because of Them We Can as a perfect platform to shout just how amazing we are because we have this huge line of history that proves what we’re capable of,” says Gibson. “And we use young people who understand as well and reflect positivity to help us promote that message.”
Over the course of three years, the photo campaign portion has attracted digital awareness, but there’s also something spectacular happening outside of the digital space and taking place in classrooms.
“We have a truck now that carries our message, products and tools and we take them into the schools and do stuff like re-imagination labs where we help young people re-imagine their possibilities and see beyond their zip code,” she explains.
Additionally, the support of the campaign has gained tremendously with partnership backing from organizations and media platforms such as PBS and Nickelodeon. The messaging can be seen on billboards “in forgotten about communities” as well.
For Gibson, it’s about taking the “proliferation of ignorance” and transforming it into something inspiring and uplifting.
“You’re not reminded of your greatness every single day,” she says.”That’s the missing link. Every young person that I’ve worked with has been pretty much waiting for somebody to ask them, how they feel or their opinion or to teach them about some of these individuals that we introduce them to. They’re hungry for this information.”
Where there is hunger, one must be fed. Because of Them We Can is on a continuous mission to feed not only children but adults with the richness of which we came from.
The trials and triumphs of our ancestors and greats of present day will be celebrated 365 days of the year.
To learn more about the organization and ways to get involved, visit becauseofthemwecan.com!