Mel D. Cole has spent the last 20 years documenting music, nightlife and more. In April 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Cole started driving around New York City documenting the streets. But when George Floyd was murdered, Cole dedicated the rest of 2020 and beyond to photographing the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the country, and their ramifications.
In addition to canvassing the action in New York City, Cole traveled to cover protests in Washington, DC, Houston, Minneapolis, Richmond, Virginia and more. The body of work he has produced from the electrifying summer of 2020 and beyond is a powerful outpouring of the hurt, outrage and courage of people compelled to take action following Floyd’s brutal murder. Inspired by the black-and-white documentary tradition of the 1960s, Cole seeks to create what he calls “a collective memory” that continues the legacy of the civil rights movement.
New York–based self-taught photographer Mel D. Cole (born 1976) is one of hip hop’s most accomplished and celebrated photographers, with a career spanning almost 20 years. He released his first book, Great: Photographs of Hip Hop, in February 2020.