To kick off Black History Month, racial justice nonprofit Color of Change launched The Pedestal Project, an augmented reality (AR) experience on Instagram that allows users to place digital 3D statues of renowned Black leaders on empty pedestals where confederate statues once stood.
The campaign, a pro bono effort led by creative agency BBDO New York, features digital statues of the late John Lewis, Civil Rights leader and former United States Congressman, as well as AR lenses of Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement and Chelsea Miller, co-founder of Freedom March NYC. The digital statues were designed by Black artist and sculptor Spencer Evans. H&S Communications handled PR for the project.
The project aims to repurpose something that once stood for racism into “a conversation about equality,” said Jess Andrews, associate creative director at BBDO NY.
Following the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, a number of statues representing colonization and the confederacy were removed across the country, leaving pedestals empty. Since then, Color of Change has introduced a petition to ensure the pedestals are repurposed to celebrate leaders of color.
“The conversation starts in the digital, and then, going forward, we bring this into the physical,” BBDO NY’s Andrews said.
Instagram users can find the lenses on Color of Change’s Instagram page. The organization encourages users to take a photo or video of the digital statues on empty pedestals or other places throughout the city and tag @ColorOfChange.
“In their time, white nationalist officials erected statues of Confederate leaders for a reason: to send a message about who should dominate this country, and to put Black people in our place,” said Color Of Change president Rashad Robinson in a statement. “It’s not enough to remove them; we must replace them with symbols of a just vision of America.”
The Instagram story feature includes audio from each of the activists featured in the campaign, including a speech from Lewis.
“We wanted it to be a movement where people could raise their voices and choose who should rightfully be put up on pedestals, and not just be forced to have your tax dollars fund racist [figures],” said Anshumani Khanna, associate creative director BBDO NY.