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On Life and Meaning

Jan 10, 2019

Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr. is a photojournalist and image activist. He honed his craft on the front lines of America’s social justice movements, documenting people and events in cities throughout the nation. His social documentary work has been featured most notably at exhibits at the Levine Museum of the New South and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture. His work includes professional sports, concert, portrait, editorial and fashion photography. He has taken photographs for the NFL, NBA and NASCAR, and commissioned to take concert photography at multiple record-breaking dates of Jay Z’s 4:44 Tour. He is a recipient of Charlotte magazine’s 2018 Charlottean of the Year Award.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in photography, image activism, social justice, and showing up for change.  


  • Alvin discusses image activism and photographs taken ‘through the lens of the people.’
  • He shares why and how he documents certain moments.
  • He describes the ‘K(no)w Justice, K(no)w Peace’ exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South.
  • He reveals what goes through his mind when he shooting photographs during street protests.
  • Alvin addresses ‘benefiting’ from photographs of conflict and struggle that he has taken.
  • He describes the ‘Welcome to Brookhill’ exhibit at the Harvey B. Gantt Museum of African American Arts + Culture.
  • He talks about growing up in Rockford, Illinois, how the city has changed, and what living in Rockford taught him.
  • He discusses his father, step-father and mother and his relationship with them.
  • Alvin reflects on attending Keith Country Day School and Auburn High School in Rockford.
  • He considers how becoming a father at a young age changed the trajectory of his life.
  • He talks about the ‘spaghetti junction’ of his life took after high school.
  • He shares why he is in a hurry to live.
  • He addresses the consequences of maintaining street credibility.
  • Alvin discloses what he wants his career to have been about.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: A Choice of Weapons

To learn more, visit On Life and Meaning