Devin Allen’s A Beautiful Ghetto is more than a collection of award-winning photographs. Allen’s book documents Black life in Baltimore before and after the police murder of Freddie Gray and the uprising it produced through short essays, poetry, and stunning images.
The book is a worthwhile addition to any classroom attempting to learn from the Black Lives Matter Movement and about Black life today. Several essays, including Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor’s “The Boisterous Demand of Black Baltimore,” give essential background for those less familiar with the 2015 uprising in Baltimore.
The poetry by Tariq Touré that dots the book — in particular “Poverty is Violence” and “April 27th” which focuses on Freddie Gray’s murder — are worth analyzing with students. But most of all, the incredible photographs taken by Baltimore native Devin Allen are powerful tools for the classroom.
The photographs are split into two sections: “Ghetto,” which highlights “a beauty that is often overlooked and unappreciated” in Baltimore’s Black community, and “Uprising,” which documents the Black revolt after the murder of Freddie Gray. A gallery walk of photographs from the book would produce a deep discussion in many classrooms.
As Yamahtta Taylor writes, “From the barbershop to the corner to the introspection captured on the faces of the neighborhood youth, Allen’s camera brings his unique portraiture to life and contributes a perspective on the Baltimore Uprising that has been rendered nowhere else. In doing so, he gives deeper meaning to the movement slogan Black Lives Matter.’”
ISBN: 9781608467594 | Published by Haymarket Books.
Too often, history is shaped by official accounts. This website preserves and make accessible original content — photos, videos, oral recordings, and more — that was captured and created by individual community members, grassroots organizations, and witnesses to the protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015, to offer different perspectives and experiences of protest and unrest. [Website description.]