“One Million Strong” captures passion in history

The “One Million Strong” photography exhibit will run through Nov. 2 at the Hayti Heritage Center. Photo provided by Katina Parker

By Christa Watson
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

The “One Million Strong” photography exhibit captures unity as seen through seven different marches. The Hayti Heritage Center is home to this exhibit from now through Nov. 30.

Katina Parker, filmmaker and photographer started in 1995 with the Million Man March and ended in 2005 with the Millions More Movement March. Parker said the pictures show people unified for a common cause.

Katina Parker photographed marches between 1995 and 2005. Her exhibit “One Million Strong” is on display at the Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Fayetteville Street in Durham. (Photo provided by Katina Parker)

“It was a wonderful experience. Each march was different and it was amazing to see thousands of people gathered together at four in the morning for a cause they were passionate about,” said Parker.

Parker was initially one of 12 selected artists for last year, but the exhibit had to be postponed.

“Last year we called for artists and we chose her work as one of the exhibits, but because she needed time for preparation, we postponed her exhibit until now,” said Janella Sellars, interim director at Hayti Heritage Center. “She has wonderful work and we wanted to use it.”

Parker has been working on this project for 10 years, since she was a senior at Wake Forest University.

“My family participated in the civil rights movements and I knew that I would do something in terms of that as well,” said Parker. “So when I heard about the Million Man March, I wanted to go and experience it.”

Although Parker has a long list of titles, including filmmaker, teacher, photographer and writer, she loves photographing and filmmaking more because she has been doing those longer.

“I started off drawing and writing when I was around seven, then I received a camera when I was 13 and from there it’s been my calling,” said Parker.

The Hayti Heritage Center is also trying to raise money so that the exhibit can travel around to different cities. They are trying to raise $10,000, and so far they have around $7,000.

Parker is excited to have her work known in other places, and hopes that people get a sense of unity from her work.

“The purpose is to remember a time when people gathered for a common agenda. It shows that looks don’t exceed our common goals to accomplish what we need to,” said Parker.

Parker also had a march that stood out to her the most.

“The Million Youth March spoke more to me because while people were there for their cause, there were a lot of police officers there as well to control it and I saw the police aspect along with the people,” said Parker.

After photographing the Millions More Movement March, Parker decided to put her pictures together at that point.

“At the Millions More Movement March, there were some that seemed tired of protesting although others were still showing their passion,” said Parker. “Then it seemed that people were using the marches for profit by selling propaganda and it felt like people lost sight on what marches are really for, so I’m not sure if I would’ve done another one after this.”

The “One Million Strong” exhibit has been previously shown around North Carolina and in Los Angeles, and according to Parker, it has had a good turnout so far.

“Groups of people have come to check it out and have great feedback to give me. I’m always curious for their opinion because I lived it, and hopefully they see the passion in my pictures,” said Parker.

For more information about the exhibit, go to www.indiegogo.com/onemillionstrong.

“One Million Strong” Exhibit page: http://www.hayti.org/one-million-strong.html