A visual story by Devin Allen about Freddie Gray's Baltimore and the rise of the New Activist


The Shadow of the State: From Tyrone West to Freddie Gray

A series of conversations about Baltimore and how photography and protest can challenge our perceptions of the ghetto

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Comm. Development
  • Memory
  • Politics / Economics
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions



Aaron Levy, Eduardo Cadava


Anastasia Colzie


Mitchell Duneier/Princeton University, and the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

On the web



50% Formal - 50% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "A Beautiful Ghetto," a visual story by Devin Allen about Freddie Gray's Baltimore and the rise of the New Activist, on display in our galleries throughout February 2016. The project aspires to create an inclusive forum for conversation about the recent uprising in Baltimore and the struggle for social justice. It also highlights the power of both photography and protest to change our perspectives of the cities we live in.

A series of public programs entitled "The Shadow of the State" will accompany the project, including a conversation on Friday, February 26, 2016 from 6:30-8:30pm exploring the ugly truths about police brutality from both sides of the blue badge. Featuring testimonies from those directly affected by state violence, including concerned citizens and officers, this program seeks to challenge our complacency about life in the shadow of the state. It will explore questions such as: is police brutality the product of a broken system, or perfect system? Can this system be reformed? If so, what role will you assume?

The program will begin with a documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement in Baltimore (courtesy of Sally Sara, ABC Australia/Foreign Correspondent). Baltimore activists J.C. Faulk and Michael Wood will then engage in conversation, the latter a retired police officer who patrolled Freddie Gray's neighborhood for eleven years. After, Devin Allen will moderate a conversation with fellow activists Duane Davis, Malacka Reed EL, and Tawanda Jones, the sister of Tyrone West, who was murdered by Baltimore City police on July 18, 2013. The event will conclude with "Honey," a performance by Baltimore rapper Al Rogers Jr.

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Other conversations include Devin Allen and Patricia Fernandez-Kelly on Thursday, February 18, 2016 from 6:30-8:30pm, in dialogue about Baltimore and how photography can challenge our visual and psychological perceptions of the ghetto. The conversation will begin with a short presentation by Fernandez-Kelly, whose recent publication The Hero's Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State examines the societal structures and codes that negatively portray the ghetto and perpetuate poverty. She argues that in order to break the stigmatization of the ghetto, we need to challenge how society dispossesses groups and individuals, in part by highlighting cultural practices produced within the ghetto.

The conversation "The New Activist" will take place on Friday, January 29, 2016 from 6:30-8:30pm, featuring reports from Baltimore and Philadelphia by activists and concerned citizens. A conversation between Baltimore activists (Devin Allen, Kwame Rose, Michael Wood, and Mehgann Kenny) and Philadelphia activists (Megan Malachi/Philly Coalition for REAL Justice) will follow, moderated by scholar and activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

"I thought I was traveling outward when deepening my acquaintance with people living in Baltimore's western tracts without realizing that I was moving toward the very core of my being. [...]

Despite impossible odds and monumental barriers, they keep trying to overcome – those single mothers on welfare with the bad attitude; those unemployed young men hustling on the streets; those youngsters riffing and bantering, lost in perennial drama, seeking to be valued while being targeted at pollutants by agents of the state. They keep struggling, those people, those families, those children, often with humor, determination, and faith. They fought despite the leveling forces of bureaucratic intrusion, predatory commerce, and disinvestment. Knowing them brought me closer to an appreciation of our common humanity."

-- Patricia Fernandez-Kelly