Inspiring Protest Photo of Brave Mom Is a Call to Action for Us All

Protest, policeDuring these increasingly turbulent times, filled with endlessly mixed messages, it's more important than ever for parents to step up and set the right example for their kids -- but it can be hard to know how to do that, exactly. Luckily, we need look no further for inspiration than mom Ieshia Evans, whose instantly iconic photo from the recent protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the perfect illustration of grace under fire.

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Evans, a licensed practical nurse and mother to a 5-year-old boy, was one of over a hundred people arrested in Louisiana (and later released from East Baton Rouge Parish Jail) while protesting police brutality in the the aftermath of Alton Sterling's fatal shooting by police in the state capital. In a statement given to the Washington Post, "best friend" R. Alex Haynes said that Evans traveled to Baton Rouge from Pennsylvania to join in the protests because "she has a son she wants a better future for."

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"She went to Baton Rouge because she wanted to look her son in the eyes to tell him she fought for his freedom and rights," Haynes wrote in a Facebook post.

And fight she did, in the most nonviolent way possible: By walking calmly into the fray and standing her ground with calm and resolve, not resisting when the police led her away: 

Wow. What an incredibly powerful moment -- one that's sure to go down in history as emblematic of this monumental time in history. It's not often that one photo manages to convey so much, but this one truly does communicate the intensity of the scene. Freelance photographer Jonathan Bachman, who took the picture for Reuters, described the experience to the Atlantic:

It happened quickly, but I could tell that she wasn’t going to move, and it seemed like she was making her stand. To me it seemed like: You’re going to have to come and get me. And I just thought it seemed like this was a good place to get in position and make an image, just because she was there in her dress and you have two police officers in full riot gear.

It wasn’t very violent. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t resist, and the police didn’t drag her off.

You're going to have to come and get me. That's some serious inner strength right there, particularly when one considers that the source of that strength is the sheer will to change the shape of her child's future. This is exactly the message we need to be sending to our kids: Stand on the side of right, and stand your ground. You don't need to attack or retreat to get your point across, you just have to stand -- and stand up for the truth. 

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As a mother, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Evans and what she did. It's one thing to sit back and worry about what kind of world our kids are going to inherit -- or about what kind of world they're living in right now -- but to actually make the sacrifice and venture into the eye of the storm, so to speak ... well, it's definitely a call to action for the rest of us. 

Now, of course I'm not implying that we're all capable of doing the same thing, or that we're all required to travel and take time away from our lives and responsibilities to physically protest or campaign or otherwise make our voices heard. But this is a reminder that our kids need to see us doing whatever we can to help, on whatever level we can manage. They need to know how we feel about the injustices in the world, and that we're not willing to give up until real change happens. Even if -- especially if -- that change doesn't happen in our lifetime. Because then that great responsibility will fall to our children, and how will they know to stay strong if we haven't shown them the way?

Evans has yet to give any interviews about her experience (at least at the time of this writing), but I'm sure when she does speak out her words will be worth hearing. Let's hope the world, and the next generation, is listening.

 

Image via Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

 

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