On May 25, 2020, George Floyd (46) was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest. The arresting officer pressed on Floyd’s neck with his knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds causing Floyd to suffocate to death. His death sparked outrage in over 2000 cities across the country and around the world over police brutality and violence, lack of accountability by the police, and institutionalized racism. George Floyd was the latest victim of police brutality towards black people when just a few weeks earlier the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery made headlines; they were also killed by white law enforcement officers. With Covid-19 keeping the country already emotionally charged for months, Floyd’s death and the call for change created a perfect storm.
Black people took to the streets demanding changes in the police force. There is, and has been, a call for law enforcement policies to change in order to aid in the end of institutionalized racism. Residents of the Tampa Bay area also exercised their rights to protest and bring awareness to the need for changes to take place. During the first day of the protests, there were no black photographers covering the protests. A group of black professional photographers realized the importance of this monumental time in history (black history). In response to and in support of, they created The Black Activist Photographers and took to the streets of Tampa Bay to witness and document what was happening. The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is pleased to partner with The Black Activist Photographers. This exhibition is the result of their work, and although their work is by far not finished, it stands witness to a changing tide in American Black History.