The SGA-funded Liberal Arts Forum had its second guest speaker this spring, Eunique Jones Gibson, who came 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8 in Whitley Auditorium to discuss the founding of her campaign, “Because of Them, We Can."
This initiative uses the faces of African-American youth to mimic historical U.S. figures in the African-American community.
Gibson thought up the idea of using the medium of photography to portray these important leaders in a different way after Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012. When she noticed her son, Chase, was bouncing around her kitchen punching the air, it reminded her of the boxer Muhammad Ali. This inspired Gibson to take a picture of Chase posed as the famous boxer.
At the same time that Gibson brainstormed “Because of Them, We Can," she was working as the online and social media market manager for CustomInk.
“I knew that timing and relevancy are crucial to online advertising,” Gibson said.
Gibson started her campaign three months before Black History Month, and by the time it was released in February her photographs went viral. Kerry Washington once called Gibson up to thank her for being honored in the campaign.
Her campaign is currently traveling across the nation and catering to elementary schools with a heavy African-American population of children who aren’t well educated on their cultural history. Students in the campaign receive a free copy of Gibson’s book and get to dress up in clothing used in past photo shoots.
“We want the kids to recognize themselves in these past leaders," Gibson said. "We want them to think beyond their zip codes."
In the past three years, Gibson’s campaign has soared in popularity through mediums like BuzzFeed, online newspapers, and even TV networks. Nickelodeon released three different 30-second public service announcement of “Because of Them, We Can” children acting as Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X in 2015's Black History Month.
“The fact that such a highly influential children’s network like Nickelodeon is showing these ads is revolutionary for the world,” Gibson said.
Gibson has helped lead various other forms of her campaign like Por Ellos Si Podemos, which honors famous Latinas during Hispanic Heritage month in September. Her past work has also featured young girls as Malala Yousafzai, Madeleine Albright, Mother Teresa and Anne Frank for Women’s History month in March.
“We realized that everybody wants to be represented, especially those that are marginalized,” Gibson said.
Gibson explained that her philosophy of learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable helped her achieve her fame. She recommended all students who seek to grow in their college experience follow this philosophy in order to succeed.