Michael Blackshire started his journey to document victims of gun violence last semester in Louisville, Ky. What started as a series of portraits evolved over time as he came closer with the family’s of homicide victims and began recording their stories with audio then transitioning to video. As the project became bigger he brought together a team of WKUPJ students to help him bring his vision for the story together. Michael along with Fahad Alotaibi, Gabriel Scarlett, and Shaban Athuman attempt to tell the stories of people that often feel their stories aren’t being told.
Rochelle Turner wraps her body around her only son’s Ricky Jones High School jacket. Ricky Jones was murdered April 2017 from gun violence at the age of 29-years-old. “At first I would look at other mothers who lost their sons and thing their sons were into something and mine wasn’t. I would think that maybe if my son was doing something wrong or died from a disease or committed suicide I would be able to find closure, but in any way I can’t bring my son back. Hew was murdered but his life wasn’t his own. He had five children who now have to live without a father in their life,” said Smith.
Judy Wilkins, Jasmine Wilkins, and Sherry Simmons, left to right, hold the graduation picture of Gregory Wilkins who was murdered at his home on November 26, 1996 at 1737 South 22nd Street, Louisville, KY. “I visit his grave once a week. I have been once a week for 21 years,” said his mother Judy Wilkins. “I once dreamed that he was reaching out to my hand and I almost reached his. I said baby why did they take you so soon. He told me my time had come.The last thing I heard him say is take care of Jasmine, and let Sherry know that I love her, and that I love you, my mother and my dad. Then he was gone.”
Craig Bland holds middle school and elementary school photos of his son Craig Bland Jr. and Toreze Bland who were both murdered in 2012 and 2015 from gun violence in Louisville. “After my first son was murdered the situation made me worried about loosing my youngest son. I thought it was only a matter of time until they shot my youngest one. The streets killed my sons. My son’s were good people they just were around the wrong people. I watched my wife Diana die from cancer in front of my eyes, my brother was murdered, my two nephews were murdered, and now I have no more sons, no more children. There used to be a lot of live in this house. That love is gone now.” said Bland.