Photographer captures powerful images of Detroiters rallying for change

Detroit Institute of Arts October 4, 2013
Detroit Institute of Arts
October 4, 2013

Detroit has long been a hotbed of activism.

From the civil rights protests of the 1960s to the labor union movement, Detroit took to the streets in ways most cities never have.

The last few years have been no exception. Detroiters have taken to the streets to oppose the state financial takeover, to rally in support of Trayvon Martin and to express disgust with predatory lending practices.

Emily Lockhart (By Daymon J. Hartley)
Emily Lockhart (By Daymon J. Hartley)

Photographer Emily Lockhart was there to capture it all with poignant black-and-white images. A photography student at the College for Creative Studies in Midtown, Lockhart is featuring the photos in her senior thesis, “Detroit: An Activist.”

Here is how Lockhart explains it in her artist’s statement:

Bankruptcy, a ten letter word that no family, business, or even city ever wants to hear. It is a word that means failure, but it can also mean hope. Hope for new beginnings and a new way of life that could change the way a person or group of people function and thrive.

On July 18th 2013, Detroit became the largest municipality in U.S history to declare bankruptcy, taking an already struggling city by shock and turning their world upside down. In spite of overwhelming odds, the people of Detroit and its surrounding suburbs are refusing to back down in a glorious attempt to save the city they love.

The work in this series is an observation of the most dedicated of citizens as they make an attempt, through demonstrations and marches, to change not only the city of Detroit but the rest of the country as well.


Lockhart’s work will be displayed at the CCS Student Exhibition opening on May 16. You also may view her work at

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • KindredAmy

    Socialist workers? Workers World Party? Well, they worked to get their party, and it’s called Detroit. 🙁

    • PTBridgeport

      What…Detroit is a Socialist Party ?

      • Dust Buster

        no the sign holders are usually paid lemmings and semi warm bodies. their signs are usually union printed. this is what a community organizer does. whenever some liberal cause has some cash or publicity at stake they round up some of these people and hand them signs and a few bucks or a target gift card. also i appreciate the time and effort you put into researching and answering my question regarding what change means. i just wish you would have put a bit more thought into it. at the least defend your premise or deconstruct mine…. something ….anything

        • PTBridgeport

          And the point of defending my beliefs to you would be what?

          • Dust Buster

            because…. you cant

          • PTBridgeport

            Wow….. guess you showed me……

        • KindredAmy

          I remember asking a Socialist years ago, while he was hawking his newspapers for donations, if he was actually engaging in capitalism and selling them instead. Strange he didn’t have a good answer. The Workers World Party usually has a booth at the Ann Arbor Street Fair each year – always fun to ask them the same question.

          • Dust Buster

            socialism is like the coolest new thing. get your che guerva t-shirt at target or american eagle before the warm weather hits

        • Emily Lo

          Though I agree that in some cases the sign holders during union sponsered marches/protests may be paid in this case they are not. As the photographer of this work and a community activist myself I personally know many of the people in my photographs and for those I don’t know, I do know who they are protesting for and that they do understand, acknowledge, and respect who’s ever sign they are carrying. This is a photographic essay about love and protest; not just one or the other.

          • Dust Buster

            i appreciate your comments. an observation … what do union wages, workers rights have to do with trayvon martin as they were both represented in a protest?
            reality is every day in this country 100 kids that look just like trayvon shoot 100 kids that look just like trayvon. most all of them occur in democrat/liberal run cities. a few people cry, leave teddy bears and candles… then its over

            but have a zimmerman type situation or a altercation with a white security and all these same people demand changes. punishment and outrage and no justice no peace chants break out. jessie, sharpton and the other pulpit pimps come out in droves to make demands.

            these same people dont have the courage or outrage to march in front of a crack house where some thug shot up the place and hit a 3 year old on a tricycle. but, they have no issue going to a suburban mall every 6 years when some shoplifter dies fighting with security.

            as a conservative i deplore all unjustified murders. granted a shopkeeper minding his own business getting killed is worse than a mutual affray between dope dealers or other criminals. i feel many of thes eprotesters spend too much time finger pointing and excuse making. many of them achieved what they wanted as far as color of their leaders, party affiliation in charge and unionization.

            sadly most of those cities lead the country in all the bad socio, criminal ,economic, poor health, abortion. when will they wake up and see from lbj to obama… they have been fed a $hit sandwich for their blind electoral servitude.

  • PTBridgeport

    i would like to ask what does the word “change” mean?

    change [cheynj]
    verb (used with object), changed, chang·ing.
    to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one’s name; to change one’s opinion; to change the course of history.
    to transform or convert (usually followed by into ): The witch changed the prince into a toad.
    to substitute another or others for; exchange for something else, usually of the same kind: She changed her shoes when she got home from the office.
    to give and take reciprocally; interchange: to change places with someone.

    to transfer from one (conveyance) to another: You’ll have to change planes in Chicago.

  • Dust Buster

    while these pictures are interesting and artistic, i would like to ask what does the word “change” mean? its become an empty headed and ill-defined word that implies whats current is bad and making it different will somehow “fix” whatever needs to be changed.

    whatever year it was (08) when obama and his supporters yelled hope and change all over the place. he was presented as some messianic cross between ghandi, mlk and jonas salk. he was going to “fix” everything by “changing” it.

    it goes without saying that he has done a terrible job on many fronts. the entire world would love us (not) radical islam would back off (not) we would not get into wars (not) he would create shovel ready jobs (not) the most open and transparent (not) no more spying (not) illegal immigration, crime, murder, unemployment, welfare and disability is climbing under his “change”

    so, some of these subjects hold signs mentioning mlk or change. if you take dr kings words as gospel and one doesn’t cherry pick them… he would be sick to his stomach at what has happened. obama saidf he would fundamentally “change” this country (his words) and he has both feet on the gas to do so (dont forget today is last day to get obama care before you get a tax/fee/penalty.

    detroit and many urban centers have been run, ruled and inhabited by liberals, democrats, blacks, handout takers and union mentality types for decades. in essence “the people” got what they wanted a long time ago as far as leadership being democrat, black, union compliant or liberal white. it might be nice to read a 2 or 3 paragraph explanation in the subjects words as to what needs to change and why.

    i don’t mean platitudes about “the working man” or “the poor” this region has the fattest “poor” folks around. working man implies that you work hard and get nothing. it also has some invisible annual income attached to it as if you make over a certain amount your “work” isn’t earned hard enough.

    not to mention the dichotomy of being for “the working man” and “the poor” one hand you demand rights for workers but give a pass to the poor that contribute nothing. keeping in mind i dont mean homeless but these days handouts can be scammed very easily. when thats cut off you can call sam bernstein and get on that disability train to lifetime bennies…and never get kicked off. its also another trend under obama in that many people get it and its easier.

    kill off all the 1%ers and increase the takers and non-contributors and the regular working folks and small business people get stuck with the tab. do these people protesting know that the people they blindly send to office like levin, conyers, dingell, cheeks and ficano have collectively took a dump on their lives yet they keep voting cause those people care about “the working man”

    in short this is like the ford family blaming the nba and mlb for their 50 years of failure. they own it. they ran it. they made the decisions and they have failed.