Times may change, but worthwhile missions do not. For over 160 years, the YWCA has fought to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. The organization stands strong in that mission today. Giving voice and support to over two million women, girls, and their families, YWCA advocates for equal pay, immigration reform, voting rights, and other issues vital to the communities they serve. Reinforcing the urgency of its mission in the midst of socially and culturally volatile times, YMCA asked Ben Strang to create a moving piece in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Joining this project at the script stage, Strang and his team kept thinking of the iconoclastic community leadership of black pastors and civil rights activists who have transformed our country over the past two centuries. “We decided the best way to share their transformative message with depth and resonance would be to have one of these leaders narrate the piece,” says Strang. Los Angeles Pastor Jacob Johnson powerfully did so, completing the entire voice-over in one take.
In contrast with the loud messaging of current advertising, Strang took a much quieter and more thought-provoking approach with his visuals, using a wide spectrum of verité photography from BLM protests across the country to tell a story of togetherness and value-driven leadership. Tapping into the power of visual stillness, the piece holds the space required for Johnson’s sobering voice-over to be more deeply heard and appreciated.