In the spring of 2015, protests swept through Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was arrested by Baltimore police for carrying what would later be revealed to be a legal pocketknife. After he died in the hospital, a powerful movement in the city followed, drawing people of all ages together to fight against the systematic oppression and violence of which Gray’s death is one example. Photographer Devin Allen, a West Baltimore native, joined the marches that spring, capturing a series of black-and-white photographs that show both pain and hope.
His new book A Beautiful Ghetto, out July 18 from Haymarket Books, is a collection of those photographs and others taken throughout the city — images that paint a picture not only of the protests themselves but also of the ups and downs of everyday life in Baltimore, from a photo of an empty needle on stark concrete to young children laughing on a stoop. The collection reenvisions the meaning of the term “ghetto,” showing vibrancy within a racially divided city. The book includes short essays from Allen’s admirers, friends, and family, including CEO and author Wes Moore, Smithsonian curator Aaron Bryant, and Allen’s mother.
“Because of Devin Allen, Freddie Gray can and will live forever,” author D. Watkins writes in one such introduction. Click ahead to preview the book.
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