Rob Bliss, a Grand Rapids-born but Los Angeles-based director and producer, went to Harrison, Arkansas, to capture his interactions in what’s known as America’s most racist town while holding a Black Lives Matter sign.
For three days, Bliss held the sign in various places of the town known as home to the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a haven for white supremacists.
One man driving past yelled “Get your ass out of town.”
Outside of the town Walmart, a pair added, “This right here is the biggest hoax there ever was,” and “It’s the next thing to ISIS.”
Another man in a Camry drove by and said, “About 10 minutes, I’m gonna be back. You’d better be f_______ gone.”
For Bliss, the decision to go to Harrison was simple: he felt like many of the protests were “preaching to the choir.” “These conversations should probably be happening in places where you wouldn’t expect them if you really want to take that leap and get people to better understand you’re fighting for,” he said.
Harrison, a northern Arkansas town of just over 13,000 people, is known for its connections to white supremacy and its history is steeped in racism. Following the abolition of slavery, Harrison had a burgeoning Black community. But in 1905, when a group of Black men were put in jail for an alleged crime, a mob of White men broke in and beat them, sparking a series of lynchings and home razings. The riots eventually drove out all but one African American resident, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
Bliss said he felt that he could hold the signs as a white man without constant threat, and he felt it was his responsibility to do so.
See the Washington Post.
Also at Newsweek.