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'We the People' updates Shepard Fairey's 2008 'Hope' poster for the Trump years.

No matter who is in office, hope and change will always be possible.

'We the People' updates Shepard Fairey's 2008 'Hope' poster for the Trump years.

Artist Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster is, perhaps, one of the defining images from the 2008 campaign to elect President Barack Obama.

The image, as ubiquitous in 2008 as Donald Trump's red "Make America Great Again" caps were in 2016, inspired optimism for a world no longer defined by political party. Red and blue, the poster signaled a desire for our politicians to work together for a common good. The global recession had just begun, and it would take teamwork from individuals across the political spectrum to help us recover.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.


Fairey and five other artists recently teamed up with The Amplifier Foundation to share a new political message for 2017 and beyond, this time no longer centered on any one politician.  

The project, which debuts on Inauguration Day, is titled "We the People" and grapples with the role we play as individuals and groups to stand up for each other. The poster series features work by Fairey as well as Colombian-American muralist Jessica Sabogal, Los Angeles artist Ernesto Yerena, photographer Delphine Diallo, multimedia artist Arlene Mejorado, and Ridwan Adhami.

The Amplifier Foundation's mission is to raise the voices of grassroots movements through art and community engagement.

Images by Ernesto Yerena (left) and Shepard Fairey (right).

On Inauguration Day, the group will take out full-page ads in The Washington Post and distribute copies of the posters throughout D.C.

The message of the series is centered around a feeling of shared humanity and a responsibility to be our best selves in how we treat ourselves and others. The people depicted in the images come from a wide range of backgrounds. The goal is to inspire the viewer to empathize with the subject, no matter how much or how little we may truly have in common with them.

"Anyone that looks at these images can see some amazing humanity in them," said Fairey in an Amplifier Foundation statement. "I couldn’t do anything to compromise this person’s quality of life, any of these people’s quality of life, without it hurting a part of me. I see myself in them."

Images by Victor Garcia (left) and Jennifer Maravillas (right).

As Inauguration Day approaches, it's becoming clear that "we, the people" might be the only thing standing in Trump's way.

From his fiery and often xenophobic campaign rhetoric to his scandal-plagued personal life, Trump's presidential bid flew in stark contrast to everything we've come to expect from elected officials. Countless times, he's stumbled into situations that would have ended campaigns or inspired resignations — and yet, to the shock and horror of many, he emerged victorious.

In the election's wake, a sense of hopelessness hangs over the nation — a shared feeling of despair. In the past, we've looked to individual politicians to save us from the threat of demagogues. To millions of Americans, Obama was that man, that leader. If there's one thing we can learn from Trump's rise, however, it's that perhaps it's time to expel the idea that any one person can protect democracy.

Perhaps instead we look both inward and around. For the next several years, we must instead put our faith in we, the people.

Images by Kate Deciccio (left) and Liza Donovan (right).

But what does "We the People" even mean?

Yes, those are the first three words of our Constitution, but there's a deeper message to be considered.

"We the People will no longer be exiled, excluded, or eliminated from our America," said Sabogal in Amplifier's statement. As someone whose existence encompasses multiple intersections of oppression — being Colombian and being a lesbian — Sabogal feels as though those three words didn't always apply to her.

"'We the People' has traditionally meant 'everybody'; all of us. It was the unifying phrase that America was founded upon," she said. "However, over time, it became very clear that 'We the People' meant 'We the Very Specific Group of People That Get to Decide Things for the Majority of America.' It has meant, 'We the People That Get to Leave Other People Out.' It has meant, 'We White Males.'"

Images by Jessica Sabogal.

We, the people, are stronger than any demagogue. We, the people, can reject a message of hate. We, the people, will still have hope.

To get through the next few years, we'll need more than slogans. "Love Trumps Hate" is a great message — so long as we fight for a world in which love does, in fact, overcome hate. "Hope" and "Change" can only happen if we put in the work needed to change the world. "We the People" can overcome adversity only if we band together.

"During the Bush years, the most prominent voices were those of fear and negativity," Fairey added. "Creating the 'Hope' poster for me was to say, 'Use your voice in a constructive positive way.' There’s a lot more out there than fear, and if we all use our voices we can rise above it."

It's on all of us to make the world a better place. It's up to us what direction this country and this world moves. Do we fight for inclusion, or do we stand down in the name of fear?

Images by Shepard Fairey.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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