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Culture » Artist Adrian Franks re-creates Charleston tragedy and powerful emotional expression

Artist Adrian Franks re-creates Charleston tragedy and powerful emotional expression

"Faith Under Fire #1” This piece is meant to show how violence historical has many different shapes, especially violence against People of color. The cross was used a tool for executing various types of people. It also became a symbol of one’s spiritual conventions. But also, it was used as a symbol of terrorism in the south. This piece ties that history of the cross to the symbolism of a gun & bullet. Some parts of society use the gun either to terrorize people, or protect people. In the case of Charleston, the gun in the hand of a terrorist was met with people who bear the cross which was a symbol of their faith.

Known for his protest art, award-winning artist Adrian Franks shares his inspiration with rolling out for his new series, “Faith Under Fire.” In the series, Franks pays tribute to the nine innocent victims of the terrorist attack carried out by Dylann Roof at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. and explores the history of violent attacks against Black churches in America.

What has happened to the freedom of Black people in the USA?

Our freedom dwindle more & more as well start letting our dollar leave the neighborhood. Black people in the USA today have freedoms that we didn’t always have 30, 40, 50 + years ago. Things like being able to live where you want to live, eat at any type of restaurants, attend certain schools, voting, or just being able to spend our money wherever we choose is a freedom that is very American. But with that newfound freedom comes a compromise, which usually make our schools, places of commerce & many of our black own businesses weak & unsupported.

Why are attacks on Black churches so historical?

Places of worship, especially the black church, have historically been the place where African Americans could have a since of freedom & refuge. By nature, black people are spiritual people; so a place likes a church, masjid, or temple historically have been outlets for real change in the community. We always organize, mobilize, & strategize various initiatives that would have a profound effect on the community. If you are the oppressor, then the most obvious place to attack your enemy is where they’re most vulnerable. And that would be a place of worship since we’re most likely to be unarmed & very welcoming.

What is lost from the conversation that you are illustrating with your art?

The loss is the sense of refuge. If you are not safe in the place where you worship, then you are not safe anywhere. So you might as well stand your ground & fight for your freedom. If you are not willing to lie down & die for your beliefs, then how can you claim to be truly free? The price of freedom is not free. It sometimes requires the ultimate sacrifice.

Who benefits from this type of murder?

No one benefits from murder.

What does your art allow you to tell the world about these murders?

With anything I create as an artist, my goal is to get people to stop & think about the subject at that moment. Right now the ask in my work that I create is that we need to start protecting our community from outside forces that don’t always have our best interest. Especially when it comes to our women & youth.

In the gallery below Franks explains the meaning behind each piece.


  1. cupcake333 on June 21, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    wow this is good art , yeah black churches better wake up , and stop saying you dont fear these fools cause the lord got my back and a bullet got your back to, you will be prayed up but not a live to tell about it . im not saying take a gun in the church but , lock the door get better screening , and alarms to police dept that can be hit from the floor of every church under every table or bench .. it there will be more fools like this again we need to take heed , , some one out there is laying and waiting for us to become relaxed again , these church folk killed were to relaxed if i seen a white boy coming in the door, and that was unusual i would have got up and ask to check the bag, with two men surrounding him so he could have had time to pull the gun, we know we are under attack in this country and to be that relaxed an allow a young back packing unknown to walk in the church is not acceptable god rest all those good souls but this is awake up call to churches all over td jakes church have security there you aint getting in with nothing put a small purse it that im so sorry they were not paying attention im sure at least one of the dead now found it suspicious and for got to tell the others

  2. usimusi25 on June 22, 2015 at 1:47 am

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  3. RichardJOdell on June 22, 2015 at 10:57 am

    All time hit the rollingout. Find Here