The 2017 Pulitzer Prize competition this spring has two photographs submitted in the Best Feature Photography category taken by Junifer Hall, chairman and CEO of the Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc. Both historic Pulitzer Prize photographs were published exclusively in earlier issues of the Gary Crusader newspaper in 2016.
Hall, a freelance photographer, entered the first photograph entitled, “A Solemn Remembrance of the Life of United States President Abraham Lincoln on the 151st Anniversary of His Assassination, The Lincoln Tomb.” The photographic project was conceived as a floral tribute to Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America. As a great-great-great granddaughter of slaves, Hall wanted to remember and thank United States President Lincoln in the form of a floral tribute for the contributions he made to American democracy, justice, and fairness for all people during the mid-19th century.
At the beginning of President Lincoln’s presidency in March 1861, millions of Africans were enslaved in the United States. Further, in less than two (2) months after assuming the presidency, President Lincoln was confronted with the horrors of the Civil War, which would eventually cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans on both sides of the conflict by the end of the war.
In 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave hope to a large number of enslaved persons. His desire to forever end slavery in America was memorialized with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
As a means of photographing United States President Lincoln’s sarcophagus up-close, Hall secured special permission from Justin Mount, Site Superintendent, State of Illinois Historic Sites at Springfield (Illinois). This photograph was published in the Gary Crusader newspaper on April 23, 2016.
The second 2017 Pulitzer Prize Feature Photography entry is entitled, “Gary Lawyers March for Justice and Democracy in Ferguson (Missouri).”
In this photograph, Hall captured the anguish and torment on the faces of the “Mothers of the Movement,” Sybrina Fulton (mother of Trayvon Martin) and Lezley McSpadden (mother of Michael Brown), who both led the march in Ferguson, along with other national and international dignitaries. The event was sponsored by the National Bar Association during its 91st Annual Convention in July of 2016. The two mothers accompanied by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and then National Bar Association President Benjamin L. Crump marched in Ferguson, as the “Mothers of the Movement” continue to seek justice for their sons, who were both unarmed when shot to death by local law enforcement authorities several years ago. The Gary Crusader newspaper publ ished the Pulitzer Prize Feature Photography entry on July 30, 2016.
The prestigious Pulitzer Prize was established in the 1904 Last Will and Testament of newspaper publishing magnate Joseph Pulitzer, with the prize being awarded annually for excellence in journalism, arts, drama, and education.
All winners and finalists for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in various categories will be announced on April 10, 2017, and distributed by Columbia University in New York City during mid-May.
Hall is the first known Pulitzer Prize nominee in the category of Feature Photography to hail from the City of Gary, Indiana. She hopes to join the ranks of Moneta Sleet, Jr., who won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his photograph of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow, Mrs. Coretta Scott King and their young daughter, Bernice A. King at the civil rights leader’s April 1968 funeral.