In June of 2020, amidst the international chaos brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic, the world was unfortunately thrown into yet another uneasy moment of separation and division as continuous issues of racial discrimination were brought to the forefront of our news headlines. Hatred and negativity seemed to run rampant through all forms of media, further disconnecting communities during an already trying time of social separation. I woke up one morning, soon after being unwillingly consumed with negativity and discouragement, to a heavy feeling and the idea of innocent love in my heart and on my mind, which I can only contribute to God. I began to think about the way in which children, at the most pure and honest stage of humanity, love everyone regardless of their differences. It has always been important to me to raise my own kids to love and respect others, and their blind care and tenderness towards people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities was the inspiration for my biggest and most important project to date, the Be Kind photoshoot.
Shortly after this idea sparked in my brain, I posted a call to action on Facebook looking for anyone who was willing to allow their child to be a part of a photoshoot in which the main goal was to have children of varying backgrounds meet and to capture their unbridled love and respect for their peers and I was quickly overwhelmed with responses from supportive parents. I then worked with local black-owned business Lazy Coconut Custom Tees to create the perfect tee-shirt for the children to wear in the photos and we all had the best time capturing the kids play and laugh together.
My aim for this project was to capture the unconditional love between children of all types of different backgrounds as they are connected by what makes them the same: their heart and soul. What started as my own dream to spread the simple message to be kind to one another has since transformed into a community wide movement here in Powder Springs. I was already extremely grateful for the wonderful way in which my photoshoot had been received by so many when another amazing act of God happened. I was approached shorty after by the Powder Springs City Council who felt that the message behind the Be Kind project was the perfect inspiration for a new mural in downtown. I was thrilled! Not only had the photoshoot made its way to 11 Alive News, WSB-TV Atlanta, The AJC, and the cover of Our Town Magazine in 2020, but over a year later my home city had decided that the message of unity and togetherness that I was trying to express was important enough to be displayed front and center on Marietta Street, right in my own little nook of the city.
When deciding on an artist to design and paint the mural, I immediately thought of Gerald Byrd, fine artist, Carrollton City Council member, and founder of Arts for All, Inc. Having known Gerald since I attended his junior high after school program, The Groove, he is now a dear friend, mentor, and inspiration of mine. I’ve followed his work almost my entire life and knew that he would be the perfect fit for such an important and impactful project. A lot of Gerald’s work follows the same message of celebrating diversity and spreading kindness, so to have him work on this piece with me was really a touching, full circle moment. The mural was recently unveiled with a ribbon cutting in September, 2021 with the help of Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman, Patrick Bordelon, and other City Council members.
To say that I am beyond blessed at this opportunity to take this simple, yet impactful message to be kind to others and to celebrate diversity in my community, and to share that in such a public and artful way, is an understatement. I am so thankful to everyone who made this project possible and I plan on doing my part in continuing the important task of preaching love and positivity in my community and my home. I would also like to attribute all of my success in this venture to God for instilling this idea and drive in me, as well as guiding me through this ever progressing, beautiful experience called life. Subscribe to my newsletter here to hear more about where this project leads us, and if you’re interested in hearing more about my photography studio in Downtown Powder Springs, click here!