Behind the Image - Oromo Unity

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Behind the Image - Oromo Unity

Washington, D.C. is an indelible backdrop for tourists that wish to create amazing images of the district's historical and architectural landmarks.

However, being at the political center of the United States can attract an impassioned crowd of activists and protesters that congregate outside of the White House or the United States Capitol.

Serendipity revealed itself back in April 2016. As I was walking by the Rayburn House Office Building at high noon with my camera, by all appearances, a protest was forming over at the U.S. Capitol. A large group of well-dressed people with signs began to congregate across the street on the U.S. Capitol grounds. They began staging their march to the West lawn.

Rather than be an observer, I immersed myself into the crowd of Oromo people as they began to organize their wayward march, signs raised and a megaphone in hand. The group began to move.

As you can imagine, I didn't exactly blend in with the crowd of Ethiopians as I created portraits of them but I didn't let that deter me from walking with my fellow human-beings. A kind Ethiopian gentleman approached me with a smile and asked me if I understood the meaning of the protest at which point I replied, "No, what are you protesting?" He was under the impression I was a journalist assigned to cover the march.

This gentleman went onto to explain to me that the Oromo people have been subjected to a regime that's politically and religiously oppressing their people by torturing and killing their citizens, jailing innocent activists and stealing their land. He stated that the financing and support for those regimes comes from the United States taxpayers under the Obama Administration.

Earlier that day, select leaders from the group met with Senators on Capitol Hill to discourage such financing and they marched on the West lawn to signify their unity. The end result was my composition and featured photograph entitled Oromo Unity.