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5 min read - Tuesday 22nd February 2022 

Ananda Ray’s “Reflections of Resistance'' and its important depiction of Black Women’s activism.

By Alex Greer

Image description: Image reads ‘Ananda Ray’s “Reflections of Resistance'' and its important depiction of Black Women’s activism. By Alex Greer, Gatekeeper.’
Reflections of Resistance is a piece by Ananda Ray that is exhibited on the side of the Pratt Institute’s Film & Video building in Brooklyn.

Image description: Ananda Ray’s “Reflections of Resistance”, an illustration depicting Black women activists throughout history from left to right, with three women at the forefront holding one fist in the air and women in the background holding placards saying “We march for segregated schools now”, “We demand decent housing now” “Justice for Breanna”, the background is colourful with the word “Unite” repeated.

The installation is a depiction of Black female activists throughout American history and is accompanied by a digital, interactive AR piece, “Those Who Sow The Seeds”, that portrays 11 Black women, significant in the fight for civil rights.
Image description: A screenshot from Ananda Ray’s AR piece, “Welcome to Those who so the seeds Tap to begin” in black text is suspended in a room with grey cabinets and shelving.

Image description: a screenshot from Ananda Ray’s AR piece, an illustrated image of Claudette Colvin with her name written and a section of writing explaining who she is among colourful illustrations of plants, vibrant brush strokes and two yellow bus icons, suspended within a room with grey cabinets and shelving.

Here is a list of those women and their powerful impact:

  1. Jodie Patterson

Jodie Patterson is a social activist, entrepreneur, and writer. She sits on the board of a number of gender/family/human rights organisations, including the Human Rights Campaign (America’s largest LGBT advocacy group), and is a sought-after public speaker addressing a wide range of audiences about identity, gender, beauty, and entrepreneurship. Patterson was appointed by the United Nations as a Champion of Change which honours individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Metro New York area or globally.

Image description: A photograph of Jodie Patterson, a black woman with her hair in cornrows in a ponytail, sat on a chair with her hand on her chin in front of a shelf of children’s books, wearing a long dress and heeled boots.

2. Stacey Abrams

Stacey Yvonne Abrams is an American politician, lawyer, voting rights activist, and successful author. She founded Fair Fight Action, an organisation to address voter suppression, in 2018, her efforts have been widely credited with improving voter turnout in Georgia including in the 2020 presidential election, where Joe Biden narrowly won the state.

In 2019, Abrams became the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address and announced last year that she would run for governor again in the 2022 Georgia gubernatorial election.

Image description: A photograph of Stacey Abrams, a black woman with short hair,  wearing a blue dress and beaded necklace looking into the distance.

3. Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting and women's rights activist, community organiser, and leader in the civil rights movement.

She is co-founder and vice-chair of the Freedom Democratic Party, encouraging and helping thousands of African-Americans in Mississippi to become registered voters, as well as helping hundreds of disenfranchised people in her area through programs like the Freedom Farm Cooperative.

Hamer also organised Mississippi's Freedom Summer along with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1970, she led legal action against the government of Sunflower County, Mississippi for continued illegal segregation.

Image description: A black and white photograph of Fannie Lou Hamer, in a crowd but slightly above everyone else, she is holding a megaphone microphone and speaking into it passionately,  she is wearing a 60’s style dress.

4. Ms Major

Aka Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, is a trans woman activist and community leader for transgender rights, with a particular focus on women of color. She served as the original Executive Director for the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, which aims to assist transgender persons, who are disproportionately incarcerated under the prison-industrial complex. Griffin-Gracy has participated in activism for a wide range of causes throughout her lifetime, including the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.

Image description: A photograph of Ms Major Griffin-Gracy a black woman wearing a pink shirt with grey curled hair, looking into the camera.

5. Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," who "dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia."

For example, in 1980 she co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Colour Press, the first U.S. publisher for women of colour. Later, in 1981, she co-founded the Women's Coalition of St. Croix, an organisation dedicated to assisting sexual abuse and intimate partner violence survivors.

Image description: A black and white photograph of Audre Lorde, a black woman wearing a loose fit shirt and trousers with her hands in her pockets looking into the camera.

6. Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Anita Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress. In 1964, she was elected to the New York State Assembly. Four years later she was elected to Congress, where she led the expansion of food and nutrition programs for the poor and rose to party leadership.

Image description: A black and white photograph of Shirley Chisholm, a black woman wearing a patterned shirt and glasses with black curled hair, stood at a podium with a camera smiling.

7. Ruby Bridges

Ruby Nell Bridges Hall is an American civil rights activist. She was the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on November 14, 1960, following the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation of public schools was unconstitutional.

She is now chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, formed in 1999 to promote "the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences". Describing the mission of the group, she says, "racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it."

Image description: A black and white photograph of Ruby Bridges, a young black girl wearing a 60’s school uniform and holding a school bag, walking down some stairs being escorted by three white men wearing suits and police badges

8. Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin is an American pioneer of the 1950s civil rights movement. On March 2, 1955, she was arrested at the age of 15 in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded, segregated bus. This occurred nine months before the more widely known incident in which Rosa Parks, secretary of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, helped spark the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. Colvin's case was dropped by civil rights campaigners because Colvin was unmarried and pregnant during the proceedings. The record of her arrest and adjudication of delinquency was expunged by the district court in 2021.

Image description: A portrait style photograph of Claudette Colvin, a young black girl wearing a crew neck jumper and glasses with curled hair, facing the camera.

9. Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke is an American activist from The Bronx, New York, who started the Me Too movement. In 2006, Burke began using “me too” to help other women with similar experiences to stand up for themselves. Over a decade later, in 2017 #MeToo became a viral hashtag when Alyssa Milano and other women began using it to tweet about the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. The phrase and hashtag quickly developed into a broad-based, and eventually international movement.

Image description: A photograph of  Tarana Burke, a black woman wearing a black top with large jewellery on her neck, wrist and fingers, she is facing the camera with her hands clasped together.

10. Chelsea Miller & Nialah Edari

Chelsea Miller and Nialah Edari are the co-founders of Freedom March NYC, which has become one of the largest youth-led civil rights organisations in New York. Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, they planned a march at Washington Square Park in Manhattan.

Freedom March NYC has led hundreds of in-person and online marches, vigils, and community events for voter registration, spoken at the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington this summer, and raised $50,000 for their Freedom Fall voting initiative.

Image description: A photograph of Chelsea Miller & Nialah Edari, two young black women both wearing t-shirts and shorts with one first in the air, stood in a park facing the camera.

This piece by Ananda Ray is  a great example of utilising art to inform and spread awareness. Unfortunately, few of these people are household names, but the nature of this work being an augmented reality piece that can be viewed on most smartphones, is exactly the sort of accessibility that will help more people experience it compared to if it was in a physical location alone. Hopefully being a step in the direction of recognising and continuing the work of these women.


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