Capturing African American history in Tampa

Black photographers to present exhibit of BLM protests

A woman demonstrates in the middle of downtown Tampa during a BLM protest
PHOTOS BY ASHLEY CANAY

BY ALEXIA MCKAY
FLORIDA COURIER

#BlackLivesMatter

In Tampa, a group of Black photographers have been doing their part to capture the essence of that statement through the lens of their cameras.

One of those Black photographers is Ashley Canay, who has been documenting the protests since they started at the end of last month.

BLM through lens

Normally, you would find this Tampa native and University of Florida graduate shooting weddings and engagements. However, the current forecast prompted Canay to go out into the streets and capture what she calls a “monumental time in Black history.”

She was one of the first photographers on the scene when protests turned into a night of mayhem, looting and fires at the University Mall near the University of South Florida (USF).

As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she took pictures of the National Panhellenic Council’s Tampa chapter protest at Curtis Hixon Park Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa.

Her photos are starting to go viral on social media and captures the raw emotions that millions are facing across the world in response to the killing of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin, as well as other killings such as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Avery, Elijah McClain and more recently Rayshard Brooks.

Greek members of the NPHC chapter in Tampa proudly hold up ‘Black Power’ fsts during a peaceful protest at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.

More Black photographers

One of Canay’s first observations while she was out was noticing the lack of Black photographers. To address that call for diversity in the field, she created the Black Activist Photographers, a group of Black photographers dedicated to capturing pivotal moments of the demonstrations taking place in the Tampa Bay area.

Since organizing, the group includes at least 15 photographers.

To showcase their work, Canay will be hosting a photo exhibit on June 28 at the Café Hey inside the Megaculture Gallery in Tampa at 1544 N. Franklin St. The exhibit is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Titled “Eye of the Storm,’’ the exhibit will feature exclusive photos from the movement.

The group also plans to create a photobook. Proceeds from that book will go toward the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Relief Fund and funding future shows for the photographers.

You can purchase a $5 ticket for the exhibit on the event’s Facebook page titled “Eye of the Storm – The Pre-Show.”

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