Written by | Ray Cornelius
I had the distinct honor recently of partnering with Liquid Soul, Focus Features and The National Center for Civil and Human Rights for a very special meeting between “RACE” actor Stephan James and Visual Artist/Performer Fahamu Pecou.
James is one of Hollywood’s rising young talents and has appeared in such films as “Pride of Lions,” “The Gabby Douglas Story,” “The Book of Negroes,” and in Ava DuVernay‘s epic film “Selma” where he portrayed John Lewis. James newest project, “RACE” tells the triumphant story of American track star Jessie Owens and his historic victory during the 1936 Olympic Games where he won four gold medals.
Pecou is also an in demand performer and scholar whose visual artwork combine observations on hip-hop, fine art, and popular culture. He also explores concerns around contemporary representations of Black masculinity and how these images impact both the reading and performance of Black masculinity. His works can be seen in galleries from Atlanta to Paris and was most recently showcased on Fox’s “Empire” and ABC’s “black-ish.”
When I found out that James was coming to Atlanta for a promotional film tour of “RACE,” I thought it would be fitting for him to take a tour of the Center. I also thought he should meet Pecou, whose newest exhibit “Talking Drum” is currently on display. The new work, which opened on January 23, examines the music of the Civil Right Era between 1965 to 1975 with a special emphasis on voices from “the street corner, the pulpit, and the stage.”
So Liquid Soul, Focus Features and I came together with the help of the Center to make this meeting happen. We also invited a few photographers and media outlets to capture the special moment. And while there was no official name for the gathering of these two artists, we all agreed that “history meeting history” was an appropriate theme considering James has portrayed two iconic figures and Pecou celebrates them on canvas. Leading the tour was the Center’s VP of Marking Judith Montier.
Check out photos from the tour and meeting below that were shot exclusively by my friend and Atlanta photographer Robin Lori:
Stephan James looking at a photos of Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till
Ray Cornelius talking to Stephan James about the Freedom Riders exhibit
Pecou and James participating in the “Lunch Counter Sit In” Experience
James standing in front of the “4 Little Girls” of Birmingham Memorial
Pecou and James looking at scenes from MLK’s assassination
Pecou looking at victims of the Civil Rights Movement including Megar Edgars
Montier showing James and Pecou the Human Rights portion of the museum
James standing next to Adolf Hitler, an opponent of Jessie Owens
James standing in front of the Wall of Justice
Ray Cornelius reading a quote from Jessie Owens
Pecou talking to James about his exhibit “Talking Drum”
James taking a photo of “Talking Drum”
Mic Check 1, 2, 1, 2…
Photo Credits: Robin Lori for Liquid Soul