Words and photos by Will Brown
We planned to publish this essay at the end of the year.
Saturday changed that timeline.
Jacksonville needs to see Black joy now.
“I’m not going to wait to get to heaven to experience life,” St. Paul AME Church pastor the Rev. Dr. Willie Nathaniel Barnes Jr. preached on Sunday morning, the day after the racially motivated violence at a Dollar General took the lives of Angela Carr, Anolt “A.J.” Laguerre Jr. and Jerrald Gallion. “I’m not going to wait until I get to heaven to experience peace. I’m not going to wait until I get to heaven to experience joy.”
This week was a reminder that some people in our community do not see the humanity of their neighbors.
Over the last six months, I have aimed to capture a three-dimensional look at Black people in Jacksonville. I have attended graduations and parades but also been on the lookout to capture the genuine smiles in more mundane moments of joy.
Too often, media depict Black people as athletes or entertainers — or, worse, nothing more than the victims or perpetrators of crimes.
This photo essay is a head nod to the nuance and the full lives of the more than 300,000 Black Americans who live in Jacksonville.