CALIFORNIA – Maryland-based photographer Eunique Jones noticed one of her young sons running around a table and thought he looked a bit like former professional boxer Muhammed Ali.
Black History Month was approaching last year and her thoughts turned to the Trayvon Martin shooting that had gained so much attention, the re-election of President Barack Obama and what future opportunities would await her two black sons.
“I needed to do something so my children would have positive role models,” Jones said Monday when she spoke at California University of Pennsylvania during one of its Black History Month events.
Jones decided she would post one photograph a day last February of a child dressed as a black person who has made positive contributions to society.
“It went viral,” said Jones, who went on to created the portraits for a year in a project named Because of Them We Can.
She quit her job as a social media manager for a large corporation Feb. 28, 2013, without even knowing how she would find 365 children.
“I had to develop a plan in real time,” she said.
The photo collection would include images of children posing as such people as Oprah Winfrey, Frederick Douglass, Tina Turner, Spike Lee and Malcolm X. The project encourages children to dream out loud and see themselves as someone else by connecting the dots between the past and present, her website states.
“Black History Month is a great time to talk about changing the world,” she said.
She said people died in the civil rights movement “so we could have equal rights and 50 years later we have become content, complacent.”
“There is a disconnect between the past and present,” she said.
Next month, Jones will expand the project to include children of all races for 365 days at a time when immigration has become a national issue.
“We need to be able to raise our kids up to believe they really belong here,” she said.