Frances (on the left) at YWCA, (back row, 4th from left), with The American Friends Service Committee and at (on left) protest, images courtesy of the Grahams
As I have been interviewing my grandparents over the past few years for the documentary, I have discovered things about them that were very surprising and made the story of their lives more fascinating. After her high school graduation and during her years in college, my grandmother joined and actively participated in the Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). In 1947, the same year dated on the image of Frances with the group, the AFSC and British Friends Service Council accepted the Nobel Peace Prize—on behalf of Quakers worldwide. She traveled inside and outside of the country to promote peace and justice with AFSC, while being the only or one of a few of its African American members. Unbelievably, this part of her life was not something that she often mentioned nor boasted about. It was only by asking questions and finding these images, was her social activism discussed. She stood up and spoke out.
Perhaps the part of me that fueled my recent desire to be an observer last Friday at the inauguration of our 45th president, to be an eyewitness to simmering protests, is something passed down from my grandmother. A few people wanted to talk me out of going. They were concerned for my safety as it became clear that there would be a lot of opposition present to attempt to disrupt the inauguration ceremony and parade. I understood their concerns and tried as best I could to explain that my intention was not to "join" the protest groups or be an instigator, but to see firsthand, observe and document, what I witness, as it is my right to do. With the highly publicized Women's March the following day, I thought that Friday would have fallen victim to being overshadowed and would receive less coverage, or would not be shown in it's full reality, in the abstract. The more they tried to strengthen their argument, the more I thought I needed to go. I have been to several inaugurations where my "guy" won and I have witnessed the exuberance when the majority of the crowd is there to fully support the incoming president; I have a balanced reference. All in all, my experience Friday was exhilarating and empowering with an underpinning of anxiety. Ultimately, there were a lot of feelings and thoughts that day and although I initially planned on writing more and sharing it, in the end, I think that the images will speak much louder than any words. No filtering, no editing. I present to you, Friday, January 20th: