The Black Obituary Project

Written by Gabrielle Ebron (@gabrielleebron)

The Black Lives Matter Movement has been in the public eye for a little over three years now. It originated as  the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter shortly after George Zimmerman was acquitted of shooting black teen Trayvon Martin. Following Black Lives Matter, other movements such “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” and “I Can’t Breathe” originated after acts of police brutality ended the lives of unarmed Blacks.

Another movement has begun and it is utilizing journalism in a way that others have not. Ja’han Jones, an Arizona State journalism graduate, started an online web page for blacks to post their obituaries in the case that they were victims of police brutality. Jones calls it the Black Obituary Project.

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Source: LA Times, Courtesy Ja’han Jones

In an interview with Patt Morrison for his ‘Patt Morrison Asks’ Podcast, Jones discussed how the project originated and what contributors have gained from sharing their story. He says that he “advises people to read these obituaries in full because you really get the gamut of emotions.” Jones himself originally planned to submit it as a freelance article but instead decided the webpage project would have more of an impact and allow others to join.

“You see a number of people who are speaking triumphantly about all they’ve accomplished, and then you have other people who are speaking regretfully about all they weren’t able to accomplish,” Jones said in regard to some of the content and focus of the obituaries. (LA Times)

The project has gained a lot of attention on social media and been written about in media outlets such as CNN and The Grio. The page now consists of more than 100 obituaries with even more submissions waiting to be posted. Here is a rough draft of the obituary that I plan to submit soon:

Gabrielle Ebron, 20, was unarmed when shot and killed in conflict with local police officers.

Gabrielle was born to Cory and Danielle Ebron on November 8, 1995. She grew up in the small town of Waco, TX and was a very driven young lady. Her love of writing and reading lead her to attend the University of North Texas in Denton, TX where she aspired to be a journalist in the public relations field. Gabrielle had always excelled academically and planned to encourage other young children to stay in school and attend college. She enjoyed going back home on the weekends to spend time with her family and make memories with them. To some, Gabby was an outgoing, optimistic student with plans to be somebody someday. But very little knew of the struggles she faced with anxiety and stress. Gabby kept many smiling with her presence and positive vibes but was able to hide the pain of losing family members and the heart ache of being misunderstood from those she loved the most.

Gabrielle Ebron was once a woman upon this Earth, yet she is no longer.

Photo Credit: LA Times

Sources:

Black Lives Matter. Wikipedia. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter

Jones, Ja’han. Black Obituary Project. http://www.blackobituaryproject.com/

Morrison, Patt. Patt Morrison asks: Black Obituary Project founder Ja’han Jones on the psychological toll of police violence. LA Times. Retrieved from: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-ol-patt-morrison-asks-jahan-jones-20161019-snap-story.html

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism