Michigan activist mom styles and photographs kids as Black heroes 

LaKeesha Morrison told theGrio exclusively the response to her "Black History is American History" exhibit "has been nothing but positive."

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A metro Detroit photographer and activist created an engaging Black History Month exhibit of children from her community posing as notable figures in African American history. 

“It was always Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, that was kinda it,” LaKeesha Morrison told The Detroit Free Press. “We’re in 2022 now, where my child should come home and say, ‘Mom, I learned about Ruby Bridges,’ or, ‘Mom, I learned about Jackie Robinson.’ I want them to be excited to know their heritage.”

LaKeesha Morrison’s son Cassius, a Royal Oak Public Schools pre-K student, poses as boxing champ Muhammad Ali in her exhibit, “Black History is American History”. (Photo: Provided by LaKeesha Morrison)

With the help of a friend, Morrison put out a casting call via social media for children from the Royal Oak, Michigan school system to participate. The kids and their parents were able to choose who they wanted to portray on film from a list of scientists, athletes, inventors, writers and activists. 

“Having them pick out someone and actually do a little research on them, I think that made them open up their eyes that there’s a bigger world out there,” Morrison said. “A lot of contributions to America were from Black women and men, and (the children) could see themselves being something big in this world.”

For her exhibit — entitled Black History is American History, which was installed at the Royal Oak City Hall — Morrison shot the children over four days, with the able assistance of a costumer and hairstylist. The participants were dressed in costumes that matched their historical figures, and they posed with the appropriate props.

“The kids enjoyed themselves, they really loved it and got into it,” Morrison says. “They were so excited to dress up.”

Morrison is the owner of Little Honeybees Photography, a photo studio specializing in beautiful portraits of children. 

According to her bio, Morrison has been “photographing in the Metro Detroit area since 2013 and loving every moment of it.” She began her career as a loving mom pointing her camera and has since turned her hobby into a full-time job, specializing in natural light photos. She says she is passionate about her work and helping others find joy. 

Morrison told theGrio exclusively that the response to her exhibit “has been nothing but positive.” She added that it has inspired “excitement by the children that participated, their parents, their schools, and by the community.” 

Morrison and her friend, fellow activist Summer March, orchestrated the event; they met and bonded last year after the 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The two subsequently organized protests, a rally for children and a book fair. They also organized a 2021 Juneteenth celebration in Royal Oak, a predominately white Detroit suburb with a population that’s just 3.72% Black, according to World Population Review

The women say they are seeking more support from their community and others in metro Detroit.

“I wish more people would say, ‘You’re right, we do need to learn about Black history,'” Morrison said. “I wish that other people would step up and say, ‘thank you for leading, now let me follow behind you.'”

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