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‘I Am A Man' by Carl Juste


‘I Am A Man' by Miami-based artist, Carl Juste @cpj_is_here on MOCA Plaza @mocanomi


"In 2008, while working on a newspaper story with the writer Leonard Pitts, Juste created this photograph of Memphis sanitation worker Elmore Nickelberry and his son Terence, who is holding a placard that reads “I Am A Man”.

These signs became emblematic of Black Americans’ struggles after they were carried during the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike in 1968.

Commenting on his portrait of the elder Nickelberry, Juste has said, “I just wanted to capture that dignity that was often deprived him.” "


Besides making me think of the social justice struggles of the past, that still continue to happen, this photo made me think of the sanitation workers that come to pick up the garbage in my community every Monday and Thursday, rain or shine, and what a hard job it is.


It is more likely that a lot of us now have an opportunity to see the sanitation workers that come to our help more often since many of us are spending more time at home nowadays and are able to see them work. How about we do our part to dignify them by making sure we dispose of garbage properly? That the bins are not overflowing? That we have properly separated and packaged garbage so that their work is not as difficult? What about we keep in mind how to reduce waste in each of our transactions?


It serves as a great reminder of the dignity of all jobs, but the truth is that some jobs can be particularly difficult, but if we all do our part a bit better, they don't have to be.


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