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Senegalese Artist Documents the BLM Movement Across the Decades

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In two separate images by the Dakar, Senegal-based photographer Omar Victor Diop, two Black figures — a man and a woman — lie curled against a dark expanse, one surrounded by a splash of technicolored Skittles, the other against ocher stalks of rice. One is Diop, playing the role of young Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, by George Zimmerman in 2012, and whose death catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement. The other, played by Diop’s friend Dija, is Aline Sitoe Diatta, a Sengalese hero of colonial resistance who led a boycott against the French government’s seizure of rice harvests during World War II and died in prison for her efforts. The two portraits are part of the series “Liberty” (2016), which chronicles events linked to Black protests across eras and countries through the lens of allegory. Through the images — in which he and Dija play the entire cast of characters, slipping into different identities with each photograph — Diop hopes to connect moments and movements of Black resistance from Africa to its diaspora to a larger history and sense of identity.


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