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Madonna For President

Hal Myers | United States

Joey launches the campaign with a tribute to his grandmother, Emma H. Yazzie, who always carried a gun and believed women should stand up for their rights.

This is the Quixotic journey of Joey Allen, a Navajo Indian who embarked on a mission to ride his bicycle from Flagstaff, Arizona to Monument Valley campaigning for “Madonna for President.” The story of Joey runs deep: a convicted felon, former drug addict and victim of a crash that crippled his hip, Joey sees courage in people who stand up publicly to the injustices of a broken political system. Armed only with a pup tent, shoe polish, Argyle socks and other essentials, like tape, Joey departed Flagstaff, along with his cane and a tattered notebook for collecting signatures, on a quest that concluded 200 miles later at the place of his birth – over the very land the U.S. government forced his people to march during the Long Walk in 1864. This is a compelling human-interest story that belies the perceived apathy of Native Americans, and Americans at large – and speaks to the capacity of the human spirit, even if it’s contained in the crippled body of a Navajo man stabbing at windmills.

I’m what Cornell Capa considered to be a “concerned photographer.” These days, just about any photographer who is sensitive to what feels like a world of multiplying social injustices must qualify. I have a particular interest in protecting the environment as well, and the two go hand-in-hand: we’re beginning a long march, so to speak, toward a period of global climgration, which is impacting and exacerbating a host of critical issues. My participation in the Women’s March in Washington, among other human rights events, and a relationship to members of the Lakota Sioux in Standing Rock, ND, as well as the Navajo in the Four Corners region, has produced photography that intends to influence in viewers an empathetic position. Recent time spent in Afghanistan was an intense experience that further drives my sense of urgency to capture and convey the cultural heritage of fragile societies that are on the brink of either destruction or implosion.


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