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A small sample of portraits + Statements

We kneel for those jailed for seeking a better life.

We kneel for those who are rescuing their children from

violence, poverty and hunger.

We kneel for separated families.

We kneel for all those detained and then deported from sites like this.

 

To cage people over man made borders is to imprison the earth.

#free the dirt

 

                    Smith, Susan and Derek
            photographed by Tim Greenway

       “George Floyd.”

           Anonymou

Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

“I got down on my knee and posed for this project because I feel you, I see you, and I want to help protect you. I beg forgiveness for not fighting for justice every breathing moment.

 

As Executive Director at Creative Portland and on behalf of our board of directors, we feel blessed by our city's diversity and the abundance of local talent. We are the fiscal sponsor for the Kneeling Art Photography Project because we are committed to promoting justice and equality in all our endeavors. We admire Titi's efforts to create an impactful exhibition to generate dialogue and to spread awareness by taking a knee. We have no tolerance for hate, violence and bullying, and we will work hard to adapt and promote anti-racist initiatives.”

 

                                              Dinah Minot

                              Photographed by Tim Greenway

“Kneeling means a sign of respect to the innocent people who have been murdered in this country, and protest against the continuing violence and killing towards people of color.”

​                                                Mariella Ju

                           Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

“A statement to those without a voice, we are here for the duration!”

 

                                               Omar  Kingston

                                  Photographed by Rose Barboza

“I take a knee in recognition of all of the work we must do holistically to make our country, our world, a place of equality. This endeavor is a key component behind mitigating climate change, and recognition of its disproportionate effects on the livelihoods of different peoples. As both an artist and a science communicator, I’m empowered by interdisciplinary approaches to share environmental science with new audiences. My artwork incorporates research data — from local trends to global changes —by pairing graphical information with visual imagery. I hope that my art encourages audiences to connect with science in ways that are emotionally relevant. I recognize that the focus of my work has been on changes to our planet, rather than to people. I take a knee for the necessity for me to listen, learn, communicate, and act, in support of climate justice. Given that art is a powerful component of our culture, it’s important to me that my paintings reflect important stories about our environment.”

 

                                                            Jill Pelto

                                        Photograohed by John Ripton

"I kneel to pay homage to all the black and lives of color that have been lost over the centuries due to racism.

I kneel as an Arab man to show solidarity with all those who suffer from racism and social injustice.

I kneel as an American citizen who yearns to see white supremacy banished for good."

 

                                      Kifah Abdullah
                            Photographed by Ann Tracy

"I kneel for all of the sacred souls and my ancestors who came before me who endured deep pain and trauma due to their beautiful melanated skin. I kneel with all of you who are walking alongside me and to bring awareness to those who do not see the point. I kneel for those who will come after me with the vision that black and brown liberation has risen high. I kneel to those at the forefront of this movement, to pay homage to the big work that still needs to be done, & to those who are newly turning their minds and actions to the importance of liberation."

 

 

                                              Gabrielle Barboza
                                   Photographed by Rose Barboza

“I take my knee in solidarity with all oppressed people. I have been working on Civil Rights since the 60s and while it is not easy for me to get down on my knee at 70, it is important to me that I do whatever I can do to bring attention to what we all as fellow human beings need to do to protect each other and send a message that we will not stand for what those who oppress do. I just hope in some small way this will help with that message. And I am also very happy to be working with Titi De Baccarat on this, his project. We are so lucky to have such a talented artist, who is also a humanitarian, in our community here in Portland, Maine.”

 

                                                      Jacqui Deveneau

                                          Photographed by Tim Greenway

"I kneel in support of all those seen as ‘other’ or ‘lesser’ in the eyes of a privileged white patriarchal society. I’ve spent a life on stage. As an older, white, male actor, I can make choices that affect how others perceive me. I can hide my differences. I can pass. A Black man in America does not have that choice. He is seen as ‘other’ and ‘lesser’ in his own country simply because of the color of his skin. A paradigm shift is in order, it’s long past due. "

 

                                                                        Daniel Noel

                                                           Photographed by Ann Tracy

“Kneeling takes me back to middle school football - back to showing respect for injured players - on both teams.

Kneeling reminds me to be humble, and aware. Kneeling is watching. Kneeling is taking a pause, taking a beat. Kneeling is reflecting on our bare reality. We kneel in respect. We kneel in power.”

 

                                                                 Jerry Edwards

                                                 Photographed by Rose Barboza

"I kneel for my mother, my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles, my brothers, and my father. I kneel for me. I kneel for you. I press my knee into a whole earth, until I feel that I can be, exist, and be whole on earth."

 

                                                     Nena Burgess

                                Photographed by Eniola Adeoye-Lawal

“I kneel with you as an artist-friend, in shared community. I kneel now in solidarity to call attention to the issues of racial inequity, including police killing of Black and Brown bodies and other forms of white supremacy's systematic brutality. As a child, I learned to kneel to pray. At points of my life I have been on my knees in sorrow, begging for a gift, or in gratitude. I believe being on ones knee is the most graceful sign of peaceful protest: a signal of honor, reverence, and surrender. For me, prayer is a time for emptiness and silence rather than active reflection. I think that is why I instinctively covered my chest when asked to pose: I hold the unjust treatment of Black and Brown people there in my heart.”

 

                                            Kelly McConnell

                               Photographed By Tim Greenway

“As a Mi’kmaq woman living on unceded Wabanaki Territory, I stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  I condemn white supremacy and the many tools utilized to oppress and kill black people.  We all carry within us the blood memory of our ancestors.  The time has come for the descendants of white settlers to recognize that their birthright has given them an advantage in this society.  Until it is collectively examined and accepted that our society is born from violence, theft, deception, and slavery we will not heal.  When we intentionally deconstruct the institutional and structural power dynamic of white supremacy that thrives on division and inequality, we lay a foundation for our children that is built on truth and understanding. “

 

                                                              Heater Augustine

                                                        Photographed by John Ripton

“Taking a knee signals surrender, supplication, and subservience. Colin Kaepernick used taking a knee to call attention to the ways ALL Black Lives, however privileged, must still acknowledge and surrender to the presumption of white superiority. I take a knee as an ally who questions and protests this.”

 

                                                              Chris White

                                                 Photographed by Dave Wade

“Empathy among our citizens would erase any issue of inequality in our country. As members of a privileged race, we are still learning the struggles that people of other races have dealt with for generations as a normal part of life. We kneel in solidarity to raise awareness of the positive, peaceful message behind the demonstration of noncompliance. To quote Colin Kaepernick ‘To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way”’.

 

                 Starlette, Caden and Kent Ruckman-Denslow

                          Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

“I wanted to be a part of the kneeling project because it seemed like the right time and I knew I had to do it. When Colin Kaepernick first got down on his knee during the national anthem I think he felt a lot of emotion. He was proud of what he had done and even though a lot of people were against what he did, there were many who supported him.

I am proud to be a part of this project, it is important to support my black community.

It makes me feel good that my mom and brother wanted to kneel with me, because I know that they care so much about me and they wanted to support me.”

 

 

 

“I kneel in support of my sons who don’t look like me and the one who feels blessed to call them his brothers. I kneel for my neighbors, my colleagues and those I love fiercely.  I kneel for all my brothers and sisters who suffer the continuous bias, racism and inequality afflicting them daily. I don’t begin to know your struggles, your pain and all that you endure, but I feel you, I see you, I hear you and I will fight for you always.”

 

      Laura deDoes and Bezabeh Mendelsohn 

                     Photographed by Ann Tracy

"I fight for trans lives, specifically people of color. As a gay cis white man, it is important for me to recognize my privilege and raise awareness for those who may need it. Queer liberation would not be where it is today if it weren’t for black trans women like Marsha P Johnson in the Stonewall Riots. Black and Latinx transgender women are statistically more likely to experience a hate crime, and in 2020 the Human Rights Campaign reported a record number of violent fatal incidents. We must continue to support, donate and uplift the BIPOC trans community."

 

 

                                                                Quinn Blackburn

                                             Photographed by Eniola Adeoye-Lawal

“I took-a-knee to surrender and find peace during difficult and confusing moments after George Floyd’s death. I saw social media making fun of the narrative but taking a knee is an act of love when two opposing sides can’t agree. Bowing down to each other takes away the powerful of the thinking mind. Physically moving your body in a new way allows you to get into your feelings so tough emotions can dissolve.”

 

                                                    Desiree Lester 

                                       Photographed by John Ripton

“I kneel in support to end systemic racism.”

 

                                  Sarah Slagle-Arnold

                        Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

"Kneeling. Taking a knee. Going down on one knee.  Why do we kneel?  I thought about this a lot.  About the often symbolic nature of this stance.  We kneel to show reverence in prayer. When professing our love for another we kneel as an offering of self. We fall to our knees when we hear of a tragedy.  And we use this as a form of punishment, a rendering to powerlessness, and pain.  We also must kneel to do the hard work of gardening, working the land. Kneeling makes us appear smaller - animals do this too, as a sign of submissiveness.  Kneeling is a posture not of confrontation but of invitation.  The symbolic nature of taking a knee in this moment in time is a powerful invitation to deep thought.  We are speaking with our bodies - sending a message of love, hope, unity and peace.  To me kneeling here and now bears the flag of interconnectedness and community.  I see this as a way to be in the moment with solidarity, grace and the common bonds of humanity”.

 

                                                          Laura Dunn

                                        Photographed by Rose Barboza

“Kneeling is a form of protest supporters use to show they are against police brutality.

I am against all the type of killings that have been happening to black people.”

                                                               Matthew

                                          Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

“Taking a knee is a sacred posture.  It is the body's expression of respect.  Kneeling we affirm the holiness of life and consciousness in all of its precious forms.”

 

                                                           Larry Hayden

                                            Photographed by Dave Wade

“I take a knee to stand
against a status quo which reigns
without regard for human beings!
I kneel quietly to hear & find a way
that I may raise a fist in open love,
in action, in humility, in solidarity
with the generations & generations
silenced by a system built to fail
the very people it swore to protect!
I will kneel to stand against the hate
& for the love of all Black lives, always.”

 

                                    Benjamine Sapp

                     Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

“I kneel with firm commitment to intolerance towards injustice, unfairness, and violence.

I kneel with resolve to support the right of all persons to be treated with equal fairness, equal opportunities, equal justice.

I kneel with dignity to unite with other non-violent protesters around the world who are focused on eliminating prejudice-induced inequalities and violence.

I kneel with hope looking toward a brighter future when all the manifestations of violence are replaced with ways of being, thinking, and living which strive to create heartfelt connections between each one of us, no matter how one differs from another.”

 

                                                           Carolyn Civitarese

                                                 Photographed by Amy Bellezza

“For me, taking a knee is an act of solidarity. It says ‘I see you, I respect you, and I am with you.’

Taking a knee is a beautiful, non-violent gesture. It shows humility. It’s done in silence, a sacred motion. We place our knee down to worship, to pay respect, and to show our commitment to another soul. The act is simple yet powerful - both humble and commanding.

The symbolism behind this gesture became more powerful in the year 2020, after images of George Floyd’s murder flooded our news feeds. The officer responsible for his death used the act of taking a knee as the means for taking a life. The irony is not lost on us.

I take a knee for him, for the countless others, and for our country. As we shine a light on and reckon with the history that brought us here, let us take a moment to kneel in remembrance, take a breath... and then rise on our feet.

I am honored to have been involved with this project, and am grateful for the artists who collaborated in bringing Titi’s vision to fruition.”

                                                         Cayce Anne Parker

                                               Photographed by Amy Bellezza

“The catchphrase of the 60’s; if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Thus, I became a nurse.

Now, I am an artist. ‘An artist’s duty is to reflect the times’,

Nina Simone.
So now I am kneeling, to acknowledge and protest the ongoing racial inequality, white privilege, rigged systems.
As I learned in nursing, every life is a gift.  As I learned in art, diversity is a beautiful thing.  We must commit to equality for all, not just some.  It will make us stronger.  Be part of the solution”

 

 

 

                                                                               Anne Strout

                                                                 Photographed by Ann Tracy

“Well before our flag stood this rock and the river covers it sometimes. I kneel with Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter because black lives matter. Black people should not have to fear being murdered at any time, on any land, because the authorities willfully keep choosing the last resort first. It's taught. It's accepted. That's why they kneel. It must be unacceptable to us all.”

 

 

Macias, Rafael_AmyBellezza

“Today I kneel as a statement that change is needed. I believe Black Lives Matter is a movement that white people need to respect and imitate without making it about us or as a way to grab power and attention. We need to do a lot of work to destroy the systems of oppression in this country. This work requires white people to take action with and following the lead of Black and Brown People.

Kneeling has long been recognized as a sign of respect in this country. I encourage people who disagree with my statement today to examine why standing for a flag or a song shows more respect than acknowledging and honoring the lives of those who are marginalized. I encourage everyone to examine why we stubbornly insist nothing needs to change or that not everything is about race. Because once you see the system and how it really works, it cannot be unseen.

I kneel as a reminder to myself to do the work. It is a way for others to know and hold me accountable to moving from statement to active participation. I am committing to real action, not just reading, learning, voting, donating, and sharing lessons I've learned with family, friends, coworkers, and others on social media. These are useful, but they are not enough to make the changes that must happen.”

 

 

“Growing up as a Catholic I was taught that taking a knee or kneeling was an outward sign of respect and humility, the acknowledgement of a power far greater than our own. With the Black Lives Movement the gesture of taking a knee has also become to me a sign of solidarity and unity, a protest against societal dogma intended to create arbitrary divisions between us through systemic prejudice, bigotry and injustice. It is also a sign of hope, hope for a day when we are not targeted or judged by those qualities about us we cannot change but rather on who we are, how we treat one another and for the deeds that we do. I chose the ocean to kneel by because while the oceans serve to physically separate & divide us, it also is the common medium that touches us all.”

 

                                              Donna Benson and Richard Daniels

                                                  Photographed by Amy Bellezza

“I kneel in humility.

I kneel in gratitude for my ancestors and for my friends and family.

I kneel in compassion for those who struggle with substance abuse.

I knee in solidarity with victims of racism and sexism.

I kneel in hopelessness and hope.”

                                                           Karine Odlin

                                            Photographed by Amy Bellezza

"I take a knee,

I humbly, silently, spiritually plead

when I have no words.

Joy, pain, loss, gain, beauty, sorrow, others, myself.

The universe knows what I can barely show.

My hands clasp, they pull my questions and ask me to listen."

 

 

                                           Susan de Grandpre

                                Photographed by Amy Bellezza

“My grandfather was an educator and a champion of citizenship for immigrants in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  I kneel because I align with his values today.  I kneel because I believe in our ability to heal our divisions and work for equality in every realm. The guardian angel signifies the past, but also the persistence of love.  Her raised hand wards off harm, and mercy to those who have been kept outside.  It’s time to join hands and build.”

 

 

                                                     Christine Sullivan

                                            Photographed by Ann Tracy

AnnTracy_HarlanBaker_WEB.jpg

“Kneeling can be a sign of respect or in some cases mourning; respect for Black Lives Matter, and mourning for the victims of police violence.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Harlan Baker

                                                   Photographed by Ann Tracy

“What does kneeling mean to me? What emotions and beliefs does this gesture communicate to me? These are the kinds of questions I immediately asked myself when I was invited to participate in the project called The Kneeling Art Photography Project. When I knelt for the photo I felt a strong and sacred emotion like every time I am in prayer. It is a strong symbol of solidarity and respect for the generations of black voices who have been calling for change for centuries.”

 

                                                         Jacqueline Rukundo

                                                   Photographed by Ann Tracy

“I want to fly,

And my mother sings!

I want us all to fly!”

 

 

                 Dennis Reagan

Photographed by Eniola Adeoye-Lawal

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“Taking a knee is a sign of respect that honors our fellow Black and Brown Americans who have experienced isolation, hurt, judgement, exclusion, and still are not free. It acknowledges that we have a problem that we need to take seriously. Kneeling is a sign of reverence and deference - and sometimes mourning and vulnerability. As a white queer person, I take a knee to show my Black and Brown community that I see them, I hear them, I respect them, and I will keep fighting alongside them for justice and an end to racial inequality. We are stronger together.”

 

                                                     Hope Rovelto

                                         Photographed by Ann Tracy

AnnTracy_RabeeKiwan_11x14_Web.jpg

“My participation is to reject racism and hope for a better world for me and my children as Arab immigrants.”

                                                    Rabee Kiwan

                                        Photographed by Ann Tracy

"I'm taking a knee to support people who show great courage every day as they fight for justice. I will use the privilege I have to stand behind people who are oppressed."

 

                                                                   Joely Kessel

                                                  Photographed by Dave Wade

“Paul: Take a knee. Take a break. Take a minute to reflect on all that’s been taken away from each and every “m-----f----...ing” one of us. “We must love one another or die”.

 

Jake: Kneeling is a small gesture to convey my large disgust and contempt for this country and it’s history.

Kneeling, to me, is meant to show solidarity with all the people negatively impacted by American empire.”

 

 

                                                                   Paul & Jack Lichter

                                                            Photographed by Dave Wade

Dave Wade_Paul & Jen.jpg

“Kneeling has always been a demonstration of honor and reverence. We honor the earth, and the soil in our garden that magically provides so much. And we honor all those marking injustice by taking a knee.”

 

                                                     Paul Cunningham & Jen Joaquin

                                                         Photographed by Dave Wade

“My taking a knee, with a smile and flexed bicep, hopefully, emanates kindness of spirit, the strength of character, and humility for my role in the community. As we all reckon with the wrongs and complexities of the past and wend our way forward into our collective future, I have the humility to know I don't have all the answers and that I need to continually, actively learn to be a true ally. I'm up for the challenge.”

 

                                                          Tammy Ackerman

                                               Photographed by Dave Wade

"I took part in this project because kneeling for justice to me, is not to denigrate the flag or the national anthem, but to highlight police brutality to minorities and people of color and criminal-justice reform."

                                           Daniel Baresi OTieno

                                   Photographed by John Ochira

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“My 'Why I Kneel': I kneel because, to me, kneeling means humbling yourself to consistently accept the realities of white supremacy while also committing to collectively dismantling white supremacy in all personal, professional, and systematic spaces.”

 

                                                                                                             Aleena

 

“The cliche saying of actions speak louder than words come to mind. People can say that they don't stand for social injustices but aren't doing anything to show that. The physical act of kneeling is a representation of not standing for these civil injustices. I don't want to be a person who stands by and does nothing.”

 

                                                                                                               Krista

 

“As a child of an immigrant and refugee growing up in Falmouth, Maine, I couldn't help but hate the fact that I wasn't white like most of my peers. Growing up in that environment made me understand the importance of representation in making people feel welcome, and it sealed the deal on me deciding to do non-profit community work. Even then, growing up in such a white environment left me with many prejudices of my own that I had to work through after graduating and relocating to a city with more diversity. POC can be just as racist as white people, and we have a duty to speak out on race issues without removing ourselves from the conversation. Today I kneel for non-white children who dream of one day seeing more people like them in the mainstream media—I promise we get closer every day!”

 

                                                                                                             Setareh

 

“A country which does not look out for and protect all its people is not a "great" country. I kneel because the systems of white supremacy routinely inflict physical, social, and emotional violence on Black people, Latinx people, and people of color. It does not need to be this way, and there is work to be done. I kneel in commitment to that work.”

 

                                                                                                                      Kat

 

 

“I kneel because there's a growing racial and economic divide. I kneel for unity and equality amongst all American regardless of race, religion and/or political stance.”

 

                                                                                                                       Qamer

 

 

“Kneeling, to me, carries a message of commitment, importance and humility. Kneeling for this project, and for social justice, is a way for me to demonstrate my commitment to solidarity and liberation for all. Additionally, I kneel to demonstrate my humility as I have much to learn and unlearn to unveil the any prior blind-spots or overlooked points of privilege. It is a commitment to a future where learning and unlearning is constant and active that fuels my participation, contributions and dedication to a community grounded in equity and inclusion.”

 

                                                                                                                            Kate

 

 

                                                          Gateway Community Services

                                                          Photographed by John Ochira

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“I kneel because I care: for my country, but most of all for the people who live here. I work through music. I believe in the power of music to educate and enlighten as well as to heal.”

 

                                                                   Jenny Van West

                                                        Photographed by John Ochira

“Taking a kneel is standing up for justice and against violence.”

                                                                          James Chute

                                                        Photographed by John Ripton

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“I take a knee in recognition of all of the work we must do holistically to make our country, our world, a place of equality. This endeavor is a key component behind mitigating climate change, and recognition of its disproportionate effects on the livelihoods of different peoples. As both an artist and a science communicator, I’m empowered by interdisciplinary approaches to share environmental science with new audiences. My artwork incorporates research data — from local trends to global changes —by pairing graphical information with visual imagery. I hope that my art encourages audiences to connect with science in ways that are emotionally relevant. I recognize that the focus of my work has been on changes to our planet, rather than to people. I take a knee for the necessity for me to listen, learn, communicate, and act, in support of climate justice. Given that art is a powerful component of our culture, it’s important to me that my paintings reflect important stories about our environment.”

 

                                                                                        Jill Pelto

                                                                  Photographed by John Ripton

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“Kneeling shows respect in a way that words can’t always. I kneel because it it reminds me to be humble when I forget, as we all do. It’s an acknowledgement of gratitude and mutual understanding.”

 

                                                             Emeline Speyer-Ferguson

                                                      Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

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“In gratitude for the gift of our common humanity, I kneel.  From a lifetime of kneeling, I now have a great difficulty kneeling; I genuflect and pray we recognize we are one people, equal and loved.”

                                                          Rev. Thomas Murphy

                                                Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

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“I kneel because everyone is equal no matter what.”

 

                                                           Joe Black

                                       Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

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“Mason Grant is an Intentional Peer Support Specialist working for Sweetser. He enjoys connecting with others through his natural curiosity about people’s experiences with an understanding that our own choices are often shaped by our traumas and life events. Mason shares his own experiences, challenges, strengths, and vulnerabilities with others as a mental health and transgender rights advocate. As scary as it is to become vulnerable and share personal narratives about his mental health, substance misuse, and being a transgender male, his passion for improving people’s lives always wins. Sharing his story is also part of his own healing. The most worthwhile rewards for Mason have come from people telling him that his stories have helped them heal from their own personal struggles. Sharing his story gives other individuals permission to acknowledge their own story in order to move forward with bravery and optimism in their lives. Through being so open about his life, Mason is doing a small part to make the world a better place. In addition to working on Sweetser’s Warm-Line, Mason is trained as a facilitator in alternatives to suicide, hearing voices, and previously facilitated groups with the Maine Transgender Network.

I take a knee in solidarity and respect with and for people fighting for social justice.”

 

 

                                                                        Mason Grant

                                                     Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

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"I kneel for all of the sacred souls and my ancestors who came before me who endured deep pain and trauma due to their beautiful melanated skin. I kneel with all of you who are walking alongside me and to bring awareness to those who do not see the point. I kneel for those who will come after me with the vision that black and brown liberation has risen high. I kneel to those at the forefront of this movement, to pay homage to the big work that still needs to be done, & to those who are newly turning their minds and actions to the importance of liberation."

 

 

                                                          Gabrielle Barboza

                                            Photographed by Rose Barboza

“Anytime I have knelt in choreography it has been a part of the dance where I got to settle energy, rest, reflect, and reground. To kneel amidst dancing can also feel like a reactivation. To kneel for me is both a listening and a moment you take before flying. To kneel is to hold space for radical creativity. To bring awareness for social change. To show reverence to those who laid the groundwork of justice before us and who sewed into the generation's resilience to continue it. I kneel to embody hope and to stand in love. I kneel to show an example to my son.

I kneel to unite the community and continue to spread the power of connection rather than separation. To kneel, for me, is to be human.

 

                                                                       Jacqui Defrança

                                                         Photographed by Rose Barboza

"To me kneeling is showing that we have a problem with traditional America. Kneeling during something as simple as a patriotic song is powerful. Just as powerful as it is it also shows that we mean no harm and don’t pose a threat which I think is important."

 

 

                                                                  Jaylen Edwards-Burwell

                                                           Photographed by Rose Barboza

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“I feel kneeling, deeply with in my heart, but physically I must stand, to represent my grandchildren, who are black and to end racism and to secure social justice for them, and all other minorities that are daily oppressed.

“I support this project because of my love and admiration for the artist and it’s meaning behind it.”

 

 

                                                              Jeannie Toppi

                                              Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

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“Love is the greatest force of nature. It is with love that we can overcome racism.”

 

                                                                        Loia Ndikulu

                                                        Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

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“Respect, respect for others, respect for oneself. Without respect there is no valid human relationship, no knowledge transfer, no exchange. You can't receive anything from someone you don't respect.

 

                                                                     Papy Bongibo

                                                   Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

"I am kneeling for everyone who has been beaten, killed, and/or worse by this unfair system that has permeated our collective culture and economic strata. I am sure there are many others who have done similar statements with more succinctness and pathos, but I would like to add my own statement on kneeling because it is what I feel. I don't kneel for the corruption and prejudices present in the upper strata, but for the people below getting repaid for their efforts and struggles with suffering and apathy."                                                                                                                 

                                                                      Luca Thamattor

                                            Photographed by Eniola Adeoye-Lawal

"Since ancient times, taking a knee, whether done in prayer or in homage to a comrade fallen in battle, has been a gesture of humility and respect. Today, I take a knee in tribute to those who still believe in the promise of America, especially those who are Black or Brown, whether they march loudly in the streets or toil quietly in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other social service agencies and organizations. I wish to honor all who through their words and deeds are striving to build a "more perfect union" and a more just society."

 

 

                                                                         Gregor Smith

                                               Photographed by Eniola Adeoye-Lawal

"I kneel to honor the environment and to protest against environmental injustice and against environmental racism."

 

                                                                    Jakub Bystrický

                                                Photographed by Eniola Adeoye-Lawal

"Growing up Catholic, the act of kneeling has long been a part of my life. It has always been a moment of silence, allowing for me to take the time to be mindful of the impact of my actions on others. Over the years, in response to public killings of unarmed black men and women, kneeling has become a powerful symbol of the BLM movement.  


In the face of these injustices, we must kneel in solidarity. Then, crucially, we must listen to the cries in the streets. Kneeling is the least a person can do to acknowledge the injustices of racial inequality and police brutality against black communities. I choose to kneel in front of the flag as it stands to embody the freedoms and rights of all American citizens. In reality, those freedoms and rights are leveraged and exploited by the few at the cost of many. Until we, as a country, address the issues of systematic racial inequality inherent in our institutions, I will continue to refuse to stand up and glorify this flag. Kneeling is not enough. But remaining silent is no longer an option." 

 

                                                                          John Degraw

                                                       Photographed by Eniola Adeoye-Lawal

“You are not born to suffer. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is up to you. I kneel to help people avoid unnecessary suffering.”

 

                                                 Tony Dancer

                          Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

“Change will happen but not by itself.

I kneel to show respect and concern, and to remember how far we have yet to go to achieve equal protection under the law.”

 

                                                                 Dale Akeley (Chip)

                                                      Photographed by Kelli LK Haines

“I take a knee in grief, for all we have done to ourselves and each other, while we were believing in our separateness. I take a knee to sink down into the knowing, that now is the time for our healing. Let us rise to see the sacred in each of us and all around. Let us join in building a thriving on earth. With Love!”
 

                                                                                                Krista Donoghue

 

 

"I do so in Love and Compassion for all who have had to deal with the racism full of hate and death. In hope that by the work that the "Love Factory" is doing to spread love will lead to more and more people seeing the strength of what Love has and learn to Love and not Hate."

 

                                                                                              Love, Jacqui Deveneau

 

 

"’Taking a knee’" originates, as I understand it, as a sign of protest during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem.

The protest is because there is blatant, ongoing, and officially sanctioned racism and other injustices in our society.

I had pledged allegiance to a flag that promised "liberty and justice for all".  Now that I understand that those words

are not how things truly are, I withdraw my allegiance, and kneel in solidarity with those who bear the brunt of the

worst injustices.  "Until all people are free no-one is free" is not a sentimental notion, but rather, physics.  And we

will prevail.  As Paul Robeson said:  We ask for nothing that is not right.  Herein lies the great power of our demands. Peace, and love.”

 

                                                                                                           Tom Kovacevic

 

 

                                                                               The Love Factory

                                                               Photographed by Titi de Baccarat

“I wanted to bring positivity to a very negative time, and to spread awareness.  Peace and love! One man one race.”

Aminata Doumbouya Ford

 

“I joined you to support your cause of fighting social injustice and systemic racism in this country. I believe that people can change, but it takes time. So, we need to be patient and enjoy our life while we are still waiting haters to join in and hold hands for unity and prosperity.”

Maurice Habimfura

 

“As a gardener and not a sports fan I think of taking a knee, coming close to the earth, as a reminder of my personal responsibility to root out racism in my own heart and mind so that the minds I cultivate, those of my children, friends and community can be free of this invasive, insidious way of functioning.  Taking a knee is a public act that speaks to a personal commitment to be part of the dramatic shift that is urgently needed. Taking a knee is accountability for my part, how I have and do contribute to racism and my commitment to learn humbly and to act! Act! Act!”

​Melissa Hoskins

 

“The reason for my kneeling stance is that there are those with disabilities who may not be able to respond appropriately in the time of altercation with police, But I have not been in such an experience myself I hope never to, I am well aware that this does happen.”

​Aaron Seglin

 

“To me ‘Taking a Knee’ is a way to nonviolently protest the systemic racism and racial violence that are a part of everyday life in 21st century America.  When I take a kneel it's a way for me as a person with white privilege to say, "I don't want to live in a society based on systemic racism and white privilege, and I want to be an ally for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color." Americans often espouse high ideals of equality and justice for all, but we don't live up to those ideals.  I want to do whatever I can to help us achieve those ideals.”

​Ann Brandt

 

“For me, taking a knee represents an acknowledgment of historical and current truths. We live within systems that bestow privilege on some and life sentences (and- too frequently- death sentences) to others. Which we receive has nothing to do with our value or efforts but on accidents of birth.  If we shut our eyes to this, we feed the systems and they grow stronger, more rigid. Taking a knee means opening my eyes to our collective reality.”

Erica Alt

 

“For me, taking a knee represents my commitment to participatory solidarity, justice, and compassion. The systemic racism and violence my black neighbors and friends must endure living in this country and culture is deplorable and unacceptable. We need to work together to fix this, and I pledge that I'll pull my weight in the ongoing struggle for a just, equitable future.”

Patrick Liddy

 

 

“To take a knee for change: in this moment, it is most importantly a gesture of respect for Black lives, and of solidarity with the leaders of the BLM movement.  It is acknowledgment of those who have fallen or been struck down, and of their loved ones.  Is our society is attending enough to their importance and value?  No, not yet.  We can mark this sorrow, this clear and consistent failing, by quietly taking a knee.

For me, it is also having the humility to ask if we are doing right by other beings and the earth, and waiting, listening, for answers.  Taking a knee means looking to our community, to ask if it is well, to see if it is more exclusive or inclusive, and to tend it in ways that strengthen it and make it more whole.”                                                                                                           

Beth O’Malley

 

 

“Before the killing of Trayvon Martin I think I was a bit naive about racism. I either wasn’t paying attention or didn’t want to admit that racism was alive and all around. I guess it made sense that I thought racism was either a thing of the past or at least rare. Maybe that makes sense as a white woman who hasn’t been a victim of racism and not really thinking about the ways I was causing harm with my white privilege and ignorance.

The beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement was a wakeup call for me and when I realized that I was part of a deep rooted racist system and racism was inside of me. Yes, I had the thought, “but I’m not racist”, but it wasn’t until I heard the words “anti-racism” that I fully understood that my complicit behavior was a big issue and I was not being actively anti-racist.

For me taking a knee is recognition that I play a part in racism and I recognize my privilege. Taking a knee is taking a moment of silence in solidarity. Taking a knee is remembrance of brutality, violence, and aggression toward Black, Brown and Indigenous People, and knowing that I must make changes in the way I move through the world, with eyes open, taking the opportunities I have to actively be anti-racist.”

Stephanie Harmon

 

 

“I take a knee to continue the work of those who have paved the way for me. I take a knee for Black lives, for my life, the lives of my family, and the lives of your family and friends even if you choose to 'not consider them to be Black'. I take a knee for true democracy.  I take a knee for equality so that your White child will have the same chance of dying by police violence as my Black child. I kneel for justice. I kneel for truth!”

Alison Green-Parsons

 

“’(H)e [Colin Kaepernick] transformed a collective ritual—the playing of the national anthem—into something somber, a reminder of how far we still have to go to realize the high ideal of equal protection under the law that the flag represents.’”  Smith, Jeremy Adam & Keltner, Dacher. ‘The Psychology of Taking A Knee’ Scientific American, 29th September, 2017.

However, in conversations with others who were better versed with the world of pro-football, the gist was that though what he did was honorable, it really came down to him not being a good QB, his unconventional play style, and that his act reinforced a supposed trait of his--not a team player--and that could lead to serious, even deadly injuries in this highly dangerous contact sport.  I resigned myself to "ok...what do I know".....but it just never sat well with me.

And present day.....this opportunity.  I am now more cognizant of why the mainstream responses to Colin Kaepernick back then bothered me.  But what did not sit well with me most, I realize, was and is my complicity in all of this. My inaction.  My ignorance.  My lack of understanding.  My proclivity for comfort.  My apathy.  My privilege.

In taking the knee today, I join Kaepernick and countless others in protesting the treatment of Black and Indigenous lives, as well as the systemic racism that still pulses forcefully through our societal veins.  I also take the knee in honour of his courage and wisdom, and so many others before and after him, as my pledge of commitment to the fight for equality, social justice, and the rights of lives.  And lastly, I take the knee in reverence of and respect for Mother Earth.  I am grateful for this opportunity offered by Titi, and for Marita in offering this symbolic location to take our knee.”

Megu Hira

 

                                                                                   Embody The Rhythm

                                                                             Photographed by John Ripton

“My taking a knee, with a smile and flexed bicep, hopefully, emanates kindness of spirit, the strength of character, and humility for my role in the community. As we all reckon with the wrongs and complexities of the past and wend our way forward into our collective future, I have the humility to know I don't have all the answers and that I need to continually, actively learn to be a true ally. I'm up for the challenge.”

 

                                                          Tammy Ackerman

                                               Photographed by Dave Wade

Putting all our differences aside, together we stood up against racism. Personally, I have had proof that human beings can break the legacy of hatred even when transmitted by those around them.

In leading this project, I thought a lot about young people because they are the heirs to a world that adults will leave to them.

                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                   Titi de Baccarat

 

 

 

 

As an artist, I have probably done more work related to misogyny, because of my upbringing: having to fight to get into a mechanical drawing class that was for “boys only” in 1968 in Tyngsborough, MA and becoming the first female voice on KTLK Denver radio doing news from midnight to 6 am in 1977. 

Then there was the experience of growing up female with a single Mom, and a younger sister and brother in the 60s.   Mom was discriminated against in both jobs and housing.  If she had been black, it would have been worse, and I acknowledge our white privilege in this situation. 

Never mind the fact that ALL New Englanders live on Native land, including those here in Maine, who cast aspersions on others “from away”.  The only people in New England that are not from away are the native tribes, who had been sorely abused.

According to Wikipedia, taking a knee “ … was originated by American football player Colin Kaepernick on September 1, 2016, in protest against the lack of attention given to the issues of racial inequality and police brutality in the United States.” 

Although I’m not a sports fan, I was immediately taken by this gesture as a peaceful way to protest racial and social injustices.  My hope is that the publication of our book will help give attention to these important issues that we must face as a society and as a country.  We need to talk about how racism affects not only black Americans but the white community as well.  It’s up to everyone to fight racism and social injustice where ever we find it.

                                                                                                                                                                                 Ann Tracy

People need to learn to be more respectful of others and behave in a more civil way. Currently, it is as if the nation has forgotten its ways and what their parents taught them and people are behaving rudely and thoughtlessly, without caring about the consequences. In fact, a large portion of the population is focused on selfish short-term win-or-lose gambling tactics and partisanship and the results we are seeing are extremely dangerous and incendiary.

The idea of brotherhood has become obsolete and outdated. What happened to this concept that we were brought up with? What happened to this part of the American dream? Is it no longer operational? America has lost its bearings and is heading towards disaster. Maine is no different. The state seems to have two identities that are unrelated and simply despise each other.. some kind of regional tribalism.. We need to talk.. there are certain elements that successfully attempt to ignite division and feed us this poison via the internet. How to counter this message of hate? Can we? I think the Kneeling project was a good first step. I wonder if there is a way to reinvigorate it? Maybe something like a chapter two? Or maybe export further north?

 

I would like everyone to take a step back, take a deep breath and look at this planet we live on, and agree on one simple fact, that we are all in this together and that if we don't work together to save it, we will all sink.

 

                                                                                                                                                                Dave Wade

 

I would like to see more airtime and resources dedicated to racial justice issues statewide. Maine is a majority white state and sometimes the conversation about racial justice causes the majority to feel uncomfortable and those in power/power seekers are more inclined to keep quiet to preserve the status quo. Another issue that makes racial justice more difficult to achieve in Maine is preference tampering. Many people, including some who participated in this project, may say they want racial justice to avoid looking bad or to give the impression of being committed to racial justice. But it is at the moment of truth that we must act, that we must vote. Unfortunately, in times like these, we fail. It's so sad, but it has to be said.

 

Maine can be more welcoming, fairer, and each of us has a chance to make it happen. No one should wait for someone else to do the right thing. The time is always right to do what is right.

 

                                                                                                                                                               John Ochira

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world is shit. America’s rivers are drowning in blood and Maine is not immune. Innocent children are dying. Activists take ten steps forward while this country takes one million steps backward. Burn the system down. Rage against the machine. 

 

                                                                                                                                                               Rose Barboza

 

 

 

 

I am truly honored to be part of this project. Thank you so very much! To answer the question, why did I decide to be a part of The Kneeling Art Photography Project: I want to be able to put a face to the people society and history tries to overlook or erase.


To answer the question more in depth: I want to be a part of this project because

           I am a great grand daughter of immigrants who came to this country to escape political and religious oppression.

           My mother was raised by a woman who came to this country to escape Austria in World War 2 while her single widowed mother went to work.

          My father was arrested for violating apartheid laws when he left his ship because he was skin was too tanned and he did not have his papers.

          Of the violent harassment I experienced in the shipyards I worked in because I was a woman.

         Of being constantly referred to as a Yankee Catholic by the people I knew down south that were supposed to love me.

          Of witnessing the hate and ability of humankind to sink to such depravity to enforce their bigotry and racism.

         Of finally, having the knowledge that this list is so mild compared to what people go through every day. 

          I want to be part of the change.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                               Kelli LK Haines

 

 

 

 

 

 

I enjoyed working with and capturing the diverse voices in the community, hearing their stories, and the reason they kneel. It gave me a profound appreciation of my path and life and the power one voice can have in making a positive ripple in the community despite the oppressive systems and formidable forces.

I hope to see a more diverse presence in the next decade across Maine and the rest of the country.


                                                                                                                                                               Ẹniọlà Adeoye-Lawal

 

 

 

The first subject to be photographed for the Kneeling Art Photography Project was Nancy Valmond-Bell on stage in Deering Oaks Park, kneeling with her fist in the air. The 10 portraits I created for the project were taken in southern Maine. Many of the locations chosen had a deep personal and emotional connection to the subjects. In many cases, the landscape told their story as much as the subjects of the portraits. Art exhibits and the book are a powerful way to keep 2020 momentum going for social justice and the ongoing effort to end racism. I hope that we as a country and a human race can evolve to love and treat each other based on our character and actions and not based on the color of a person's skin.

 

                                                                                                                                                               Tim Greenway

 

 

 

 

 

“The Kneeling Art Photography Project” is a timely and critically important response to the social injustice and racism embedded in this nation's institutions. It gives Mainers from various communities creative ways to express their identities and solidarity in the struggle to rid these social ills from our society's institutions. I am privileged to work with the people committed to this struggle. Perhaps our collaboration will inspire other individuals and communities across the state to take a stand, to “take a knee.” The people I photographed in this project inspire me, from a “Mi'maq woman living on unceded Wabanaki Territory” to an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo who holds a tribal knife to the sky in a gesture of peace to “salute those in America who fight for their ancestors and join them in their struggle to end racism here and throughout the world.”

 

                                                                                                                                                              John Ripton

 

 

 

I never thought the knee hold position would be so powerful. It just commands respect. And the symbolism has become such that it speaks of such high volumes of social justice.

I had the pleasure and the privilege of photographing Mainers who are very attached to the kneeling posture. It is very meaningful and impressive to meet other people who feel too outraged and concerned about the injustice that Colin Kaepernick proclaims.

Although all my subjects are white women, they are aware of the prejudices that exist in today's society. And I agree with them that it is so.

What we need is more tolerance and sensitivity towards each other and the elimination of hateful prejudices. A more nurturing community, state and nation where we respect each other for our similarities and our differences. More teaching, learning and understanding the facts so that people don't remain so ignorant of the truth.

Also, the phenomenon of one person performing a simple gesture that has become a powerful worldwide movement. And for The Kneeling Art Photography Project to have the same influence, right here in Maine. Pretty amazing!

                                                                                                                                                               Amy Bellezza

The People we Photographed

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