How Far We’ve Come and How Far We Still Have to Go

We are so pleased to share this guest post by one of our very favorite people ever: Dr. Fatimah Salleh! Dr. Salleh was born in Brooklyn, NY. She is the oldest of seven children.

Dr. Salleh first learned to love the scriptures from her grandmother, Madeline Riley. It was Nana’s Bible stories that captured Dr. Salleh’s attention.

Dr. Salleh received her Bachelor of Arts in History at Utah State University. She earned her Masters in Newspaper Journalism at Syracuse University and her PhD at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in Mass Communication.Dr. Salleh is currently in her senior year at Duke University pursuing a Master’s of Divinity .

Dr. Salleh is the mother of four children. She has been married to her husband, Eric, for 14 years.


This year I did not mail Christmas cards.

I did, however, send out a card honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The idea started with the encouragement of a mentor who challenged me to pursue a few creative projects during my Christmas break from divinity school. In an effort to emphasize the importance of tapping into the distinct yet distant creative parts of myself she offered me this statement:

“When we create, we draw closer to the Creator.”

In my deep desire to draw out the creative parts of me that had gone dormant, I realized I wanted/needed to pick up my camera again. It had been more than a decade since I had taken those courses in photojournalism. It had been more than a few years since I picked up anything other than my camera phone. Yet still I wanted to speak, maybe even shout, at the world through my lens.

I wanted photographs that served to reverence the work and dedication of those who had gone before.

I yearned to address the current chasms that confront my brown children in America.

I needed to create a small yet tangible link from history to the present—to call on the sacrifices and victories of the past to embrace us in the struggles of the now. I wanted, someway, somehow, to honor the painful path of the past and draw on that strength to guide through the oppressive powers of today.

I let the Spirit guide me in my cries and longing to speak to injustice. And certainly as I allowed myself to envision this project, I felt closer to my Creator’s care for me as a brown mother in a place of wilderness.

In a 2006 Women’s General Conference, President Dieter Uchtdorf said, “The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit.”

This is a powerful concept—create with the Creator.

Create to draw near to all creation.

Create to speak to your space in creation.

It is in my creation that I spoke more deeply to both my own narrative and my children’s, which is part of a greater landscape of stories that beg to be heard.

This is my latest attempt to draw near to my Creator and I am grateful for it.


How Far We’ve Come…

water fountain


Photo 1: The Civil Rights movement sought to end the segregation of public places, such as bathrooms and water fountains.




school integration

Photo 2: Ruby Bridges was only six years old when she integrated William Franz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960.



Photo 3: The sit-ins at “whites only” eating establishments also helped usher in integration at public eateries and shops.



Photo 4: Civil Rights Movement focused on unrestricted voting access for African Americans. While African Americans legally had the right to vote, southern states adopted a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests aimed at keeping African Americans from exercising their right to vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would legally end these discriminatory practices.

How Far We Still Have to Go…

hands up



Photo 5: Micah is representing the need to address police brutality against black bodies.




school to prisonPhoto 6: Ronin depicts the disproportionate amount of black people in the prison system today. Many of these black people are serving life sentences for non-violent crimes such as drug offenses.


wage gapPhoto 7: Zora holds 78 cents in her hand. 78 cents is the average amount a woman earns to every $1 a man makes in America. More often than not, African American and Latina women earn even less than a white woman’s 78 cents.

hoodiePhoto 8: Xavier wears a hoody depicting how young black lives are constantly being seen as suspicious and threatening for something as simple as wearing a hoody. Unarmed black people are being killed because they are black.

6 responses to “How Far We’ve Come and How Far We Still Have to Go

  1. Thank you for sharing this Fatimah. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself holding my breath looking at these pictures. They quite literally took my breath away.


  2. This is beautiful and profound.


  3. Oh babes. Your kids in such heartbreaking but breathtaking photos. Thank you for sharing.


  4. Amazing. Profound. Important.


  5. So beautiful. Thank you, Fatimah u


  6. I’ve done some research on those who profit from incarceration in this country and there’s a discomfiting overlap with names I’m familiar with from my Mormon youth… Neither prisons nor religions ought to be run as businesses, but that’s exactly how they’re being operated, and we do ourselves a disservice to pretend otherwise.


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