Author name: David Little-Smith

Activists 25 Years

While covering Pride events in the 1990s, I found myself especially drawn to the gay rights activists, and i began to cover demonstrations for/ against various causes. By 1997, I had declared Activists a project, and I covered every event I could without regard for the purpose. I always said, “I don’t care if they’re protesting a convenience store over the price of peanut butter cups.”
I worked on the project for four years, had a gallery show, and that was supposed to be it, but I couldn’t let it go.
I had just moved back to New York when the 2004 Republican National Convention rolled into town along with hundreds of thousands of protesters, and it was officially back on.
There have been notable gaps in the timeline, but I always return to it.
After covering the 2016 party conventions and the 2017 inauguration, I said I was done, but I was still at it as recently as the 2022 protests involving the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Beto O’Rourke Rally Austin Texas 06/26/22

Two days after the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization— which overturned Roe v. Wade ending constitutional protection for abortion rights— Texas Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke(D) held a rally near downtown Austin addressing the controversy.
While the candidate spoke, a small number of people on an adjacent street were demonstrating for reproductive rights. The crowd grew larger when a handful of counter-demonstrators arrived, and demonstrators eventually took over the street as participants from O’Rouke’s rally joined the demonstration. At this point, the demonstrators embarked on an unscheduled march, and the police did not intervene.
This would end my coverage of the continuing Dobbs/Roe demonstrations because I tested positive for COVID the next day.

Roe v. Wade Overturned 06/24/22

On June 24th 2022, in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the United States Supreme Court overturned the 1973 landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade by a vote of 6-3. This removed constitutional protections for abortion rights and gave individual states the power to regulate any aspect of abortion not protected by federal law.
Within hours, people across the country took to the streets to protest. It was 104 degrees in Austin, Texas that day, but that did not deter thousands of people from marching for miles through the streets and eventually descending on the capital. State troopers would not allow them onto the grounds, but they rallied outside the gates on Congress Street for hours in the brutal Texas heat.

Reproductive Rights Rally Austin Texas 05/14/22

In May of 2022, a draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson penned by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to the public. The opinion indicated that the US Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade— ending constitutional protection for abortion rights.
The ruling in Dobbs was still more than a month away, but protests erupted across the nation. This one was at the state capital in Austin, Texas.

The Sacred Ganges River: The Kumbh Mela and Varanasi

The Allahabad Kumbh Mela is a Hindu religious gathering held in the city of Allahabad, India, at the Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati river.
The festival is marked by a ritual dip in the waters. but it is also a celebration of community with numerous fairs, education, religious discourses by saints, and mass feedings of monks or the poor.
Approximately 50 million people attended the Allahabad Ardh Kumbh Mela in 2019 to bathe in the holy river Ganges, making it the largest peaceful gathering event in the world.
The seekers believe that bathing in these rivers is a means to prāyaścitta (atonement, penance) for past mistakes, and that it cleanses them of their, for lack of a better word, sins.
Varanasi just downriver from Allahabad also welcomes seekers at this time, so I felt it was appropriate to include Varanasi in the Ganges work. This work is separated into four galleries.

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