In 2016, Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop launched what he calls the “freedom project,” dramatizing defining moments in black history in his studio. This image, dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin, is the most recent of the events he depicts. As in all his images, Diop presents himself as the teenager, just as he represents himself as Senegalese soldiers of the Second World War, members of the Black Panther or freedom walkers in Selma, exploring a common thread in time-separated struggles for racial justice. and space.
10 years ago this month, Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Martin, 17, was driving home to his father in Sanford, Florida from a local store where he bought iced tea and a bag of Skittles candy. It took six weeks before Zimmerman was arrested and charged with the murder after a petition attracted more than 2 million signatures; when Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder, the verdict sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
Diop describes himself as Martin in the hoodie which has become a symbol of solidarity in this protest – Zimmerman had claimed the hoodie suggested Martin was “a suspicious guy”. He is surrounded by a sunburst halo of Skittles, sanctifying his image. The image is included in a recent collection of Diop photographs from the past decade. “These people who have experienced systemic violence, look at the viewer through the lens and seem to be saying: no freedom without justice,” he says. “My intention in describing this universal timeline of black protest was to act as a reminder, not as an invitation for particular demands or complaints, but as a means to unite.”
Omar Victor Diop is published by Editions 5 Continents