Photo Essay: With Our Eyes Closed

By Mark Ludak

Cemetery. Stovall Plantation, Mississippi

“He caught us with our eyes closed. I never told nobody this.” Felicia Sanders, survivor of mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

“We were just about to say the prayer to be released,” said Felicia Sanders, one of three people who survived when a gunman opened fire during Bible study at her Charleston, South Carolina, church on June 17, 2015.

A family visiting the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston to pay their respects to the nine people murdered by Dylan Roof. No one in the family knew personally any of the nine people killed on that day in June, yet they had driven several hours to pay their respects.

Neo-Nazis protesting the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol building in Columbia, SC.

Ku Klux Klan Organizing Rally in Madison, Indiana.

Street in the aftermath of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA., 2017.

On August 12, 2017, a car was deliberately driven into a crowd of people who had been peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring 28. The driver of the car, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., had driven from Ohio to attend the rally.

Street Memorial for Heather Heyer

Mother of All Rallies, 2017

Anti-Hate Rally, Philadelphia, PA, 2018

Peaceful protest march in memory of George Floyd, Newark, NJ, Summer 2020

Since 1985, Mark Ludak has worked as a fine artist and documentary photographer with a focus on society and the environment. He has completed international and national assignments for clients including Apple, The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Johnson & Johnson, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Environmental Defense Fund, The Solebury Land Conservancy, Amnesty International, and many others. He recently completed commissions concerning healthcare in Rwanda and Vietnam for non-governmental organizations.

He travelled with his teenage son, Matthew Ludak, now a photographer in his own right, to witness many of these moments in American history.

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