Shujaa Graham

22 / 25 by Sofía Moro, 2009

Sofia Moro knows that photography is about making reality unforgettable. That’s why in 2009 she traveled to Hotel Altarista located in Birmingham, Alabama, to witness the meeting of 21 of the 139 exonerated death row inmates who had managed to prove their innocence throughout the history of the United States.

A meeting full of sadness and joy. For four days she met all the key figures of the meeting: she delved into their stories, their feelings and the difficult journey that all who have been sentenced to death go through to prove their innocence.

She took notice of Shujaa Graham and his life marked by poverty and segregation. In 1973 he was charged with killing one of the guards of the prison where he was being held and he was sentenced to death. The California Supreme Court overturned the judgment in 1979 based on the systematic exclusion of African Americans jurors. In 1981 he was declared innocent and released. He let Sofia take his photograph: A tear rolled down his cheek while his photo was being taken, he knew this image would become a manifesto against the death penalty.

Sophia Moro went to that meeting because she knew that the eye is insatiable. She wants to see. She wants to snatch from reality anything resembling the issues that cross her mind. That’s why you will find commitment and excitement in her photographs.