Duo empowers marginalized groups

Justice Media began as a visual art piece
Duo empowers marginalized groups
Courtesy of Frantley Miller

For Johnny and Marie Justice, their last name is more than just that – it’s a reflection of the kind of work they pursue through their production studio. The couple creates video and photography aimed at empowering Madison’s marginalized communities.

Justice Media started organically, when Marie bought a DSLR camera to take photos of their children in 2015. That was around the time that Tony Robinson, an unarmed, 19-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer. At a vigil in memory of Robinson, the Justices met a man, John Steines, who they eventually worked with to start an initiative called Intentionally Welcoming Communities.

The project began as a visual art piece, an embodiment of the organization’s goal to create an inclusive Madison. Johnny said the piece was meant to be thought provoking. “[E]ven though we believe and think certain things, how intentional are we in welcoming everyone?” Johnny asks. With no formal camera training between them, the Justices expanded the project into the documentary “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,” in which they followed stories of five local people from different marginalized groups.

“So many people need a voice,” Johnny says. “‘Walk A Mile In Your Shoes’ gives you a bird’s-eye view of a life you have a stereotype about.”

Following the premiere of the documentary, Justice Media embarked on its next project: “We Are Icons.” The idea stemmed from the duo questioning why there weren’t more people of color featured in iconic images and film.

They transformed models, who were friends or people they ran into on the streets, into characters such as James Bond, Wonder Woman and pin-up models. They documented the process by recording participants responding to the question of why they love being a person of color.

Johnny says both projects are on-going. Their next idea is to depict people of color as music icons like Elvis Presley, or television stars and subjects in famous photos, most of whom are white people, he says.

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