Breaking down racial and economic barriers begins with our youth.
With that premise, Focus: HOPE brings together 60 teens from city and suburban high schools each year for a series of sessions where they explore issues related to diversity and use photography as a means of expression. Our project is to publish a retrospective of the dramatic black-and-white photographs that have emerged from this diversity and youth leadership program over the last 15 years. This book contains photographs and artist statements that give insight into how youth living in this highly-segregated community of southeast Michigan view their world.
Focus: HOPE is a nationally-recognized civil and human rights organization that was founded in the wake of the 1967 Detroit riots. For nearly 45 years, the organization has worked to overcome racism, poverty and injustice at every level. Our Focus on the Mission program aims to change attitudes and stereotypes among high school students. Students meet on our Detroit campus where they experience ethnic food and music, group discussions, and are taught the basics of photography from professional photographer volunteers.
Guided by their mentors, they set out to photograph various cultural and ethnic centers in the city –from the Hispanic area of southwest Detroit to the elaborate Fisher Mansion that has been converted into Hare Krishna cultural center. They experience the vibrant energy in the central city and the desolation of neighborhoods pockmarked by abandoned homes.
After capturing dozens of images, the students have one tough assignment: Select one favorite photo and write an artist statement reflecting what the photo means to them. The program culminates in an exhibit on the Focus: HOPE campus which brings together the families of these students.
The 15-year retrospective will pull together 120 photos that capture the spirit of these teenagers. This is our first attempt to consolidate photos into one book that demonstrates the emotional depth and perceptions of these talented young men and women. Our program is known to open minds and encourage community activism – and we expect that this book will also.
Your support of this project will enable Focus: HOPE to publish the book, notecards that each feature a unique photo, and copies of some outstanding photographs. Thank you for considering this project!
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