Jess Hurd

Archive for September, 2008

Stocking Fillers?

Whilst photographing the credit crunch I came across these rather expensive silver condiment tops for sale, London.

Images available from:

Anti Academies Alliance

Parents and teachers from the Anti Academies Alliance, dressed as spivs and fat cats protest outside hedge fund charity HQ ARK. London.

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The Muppet Show

An uncanny resemblance between Alastair Darling the Chancellor and Sam the American Eagle struck me at Labour Party Conference…

and by popular demand our PM also has a look-alike, enjoy.

See Conference Highlights here

All images © Jess Hurd/

Conference images available from:

Dale Farm Travellers

Irish traveller children from Dale Farm site protest against council plans to take the children into care, demolition of a school building and eviction. Basildon Civil Centre. Essex  

See web gallery here

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Ian Rankin

Author Ian Rankin, London.

America Project

“What’s Going On?”

In June I spent 6 weeks traveling across the United States of America gathering interviews with people I met about the recession, racism and the Presidential election.

The posts below are a selection of them. I will be adding more interviews and audio soon.

Thanks to Sion Touhig and Keith McKenna for their editing skills and everyone who helped me out along the way on what was an amazing trip.

All images and interviews © Jess Hurd

Socialist Worker newspaper article: The Real Faces of America

“It’s not Magic City like we hoped.”

Miami, Florida

My journey started in Miami, a city of conspicuous wealth where grand mansions jostled for space along bleached white beaches. But another side to Miami was the poverty of the Magic City Trailer Park where I met Marcos Antonio Prado a migrant from Guatemala.

”I work from 7am-11pm as a security guard and I don’t make enough money, I cannot afford anywhere else.”

“I think Barack Obama will be good for us, for all the people. The Republican candidate will continue the same George Bush politics of war…if I had my papers, I would vote Democrat.”

“I hope the next President will do something for all the foreign people, give us papers… we don’t have jobs, we don’t have nothing.”

“It’s not Magic City like we hoped.”

"Right here in the ghetto.”

At a homeless shelter on the edge of Overtown, Miami I spoke to Billy Jewel Garrett Jr who had been a cook for 25 years. He shares the shelter with 300 other men. Billy has the privilege of sleeping on the concrete floor in the kitchen.

“It do look like paradise when you go to the beach, the million dollar houses but once you cross over them islands and come into the town of Miami you’re right here in the ghetto.”

“This used to be Overtown, but they are pushing black people back, so they can put in the people with money.”

“They are kicking people out, putting them in projects…building up all these skyscrapers, they just sit there empty, nobody can afford them.” 

"My God I wish I could vote."

Atlanta, Georgia

In Atlanta I sat in a crowded Greyhound Station next to Nekeeta Salamne a young mother from Trinidad.

“My God I wish I could vote, I wish I had a voice in this country because I would try to change a lot, because this country is going from bad to worse.”

“That George Bush and now this John McCain, who is he? All they are thinking about is war, is that what you want to teach your children, that this is what the world is about?”

“They say about insurgents attacking. What is an insurgent? Normal people who are just attacking the army.”

“People in this country need to wake up and we are waking up. Because Obama won, that is a beautiful sign, that yes the day is changing in America, people are tired.”

“In New Orleans the levees didn’t break because of the hurricane. If you compare New Orleans to the wild fires they had in California, all the millionaires, their mansions were burning, if you take a look at the difference, you contrast how they handled that, you would want to cry.”

“There are double standards, when it comes to dealing with black and white and poor whites feel it.”

“You know what white people call poor whites? How disgraceful they call them white trash, why would you call someone who is not up on your class, white trash?”

“And these people tell you, ‘I am voting for Mr Obama’. I feel like he relates to me, he is not talking at me, he is talking to me.”

“Look at what George Bush is doing and he has a bunch of idiots around him Cheney, Condoleezza.”

“Condoleezza is an idiot, a black idiot. She is with them, she was the president of Chevron, or one of them companies. She has her hand in dirt. She is one of them. How could you be black and be a Republican?”

"Why is everything going down the toilet?"


Birmingham Alabama is a decaying industrial town where even Walmart has closed.

Jane was on her doorstep.

“I don’t like Obama.”

“Everyone want a black butt, but I want a female, she dropped out too quick, she (Clinton) should be on the ticket with him”

“I don’t like the way he talk, he may have a good education…everyone wanted this to be a new change, first black man in the White House. He ain’t gonna do any more than the rest of them did.”

“We have nothing in Birmingham…we don’t have decent public transportation…we don’t have a theatre downtown…no bar, no pub, we only have what we call the hole in the wall clubs.”

“They closed down the schools…you gonna pack them all in one school? Like the mega churches, they making mega schools.”

“You can’t buy a house. Those that are in their home they are foreclosing on them. You can’t pay your gas. You can’t pay your light. You can’t pay your water. You can’t buy grocery.”

“If there ain’t no depression why is everything going down the toilet?”

"My Grandmother was a slave."

Brighton, Alabama

Further out of town I spoke with Elnora Golden, a retired woman, bedridden with acute arthritis.

“My Grandmother was a slave, the white man raped her, so she had a white baby.”

“She died before I was born, but my Mama always said she wanted us to be different, not prejudiced.”

“As Martin Luther King said, ‘It’s gonna change’ and there has been change.”

“One of my kids she went to a mixed school, black and white, she had more white friends than black friends.”

“The children used to come to the house and a neighbour said ‘why do you have white people coming to your house?’ and I said they’re not bothering me, I don’t care what colour they are, they are children. If my children deserve respect so do they.”

"They are throwing us back into depression."

Birmingham, Alabama

In a declining industrial district of Birmingham Alabama the Smith family talked about the lack of jobs.

“We are barely making it, all of us pulling together…you can’t live by yourself” explained Vera.

“They are throwing us back into depression.”

Keynnon didn’t think the election would change their situation.

“Presidential wise, they don’t know me from you. Hell no, not to me, once they get in. They make promises now, but anyone can tell a lie, you feel me?”

Cornette added, “They ain’t caring nothing about us for real, they are caring about their pockets.”

“As long as they living good, we living bad.”

"There is still racism going on, but it’s undercover. "

Montgomery, Alabama

In Montgomery Alabama I met James Charles Jr, the first black taxi driver in the city.

“I started in 77. Back in the 60’s there were no black drivers or black riders in Yellow Cabs.”

“There is still racism going on, but it’s undercover. It could be better if the people tried to love each other more and leave all that hatred alone.”

“We marched from Selma to Montgomery, it was a good march and it was a bad march. A lot of people died, a lot of people got dog-bit, a lot of people went to jail, but we made it to Montgomery.”

“It wasn’t about white, it wasn’t about black. It was about being free to go wherever you want to go in the State of Montgomery. Before the march we couldn’t go into certain restaurants, we could not go in certain theatres…but after all the marching was over we could.”

“I knew Rosa Parks, she was a lady, she didn’t bother anyone. Only thing she did was sit on that bus. She was asked to move to the back of the bus, she refused to go. They arrested her, took her to jail, fingerprint her and she were released.”

“If you pay for a bus ride you got the right to sit where you want to sit.”

“As a black woman, she was a great woman, a beautiful woman, a strong woman, that’s what we need more of.”

“I fear that Obama as President of the United States is like any other man, he can only do so much, whoever wins it gonna take time to build the United States back up again, with the war and everything.”                

“I just pray to God that whoever wins will try to help the poor people, will try to get the gas prices down and help the people that really need help.”

"We never gonna make it out of the ghetto."

Chisolm, Montgomery

In Chisolm, Montgomery young men spoke of how frustrating America had become.

“I don’t think it could get worse. If it do get worse we will be considered a third world country” said Ronaldo McGee.

“People ain’t gonna sit around and starve, they’re gonna have to do what they have to do to feed their family.”

“I wish I could get up enough money and go somewhere else, where there are equal opportunities for everybody.”

“They are looking out for the prisons more than the kids in school and if the kids in school don’t get a proper education they will end up in prison.”

Jerome Jackson added: “We suffering down here, we never gonna make it out of the ghetto.”

”People are going to simply die.”

Greenville, Mississippi

In the poor agricultural town of Greenville, Mississippi Laura Charles sat outside her backdoor with a handful of bills.

I didn’t have the (electricity) money and the man just came and said he had to come to cut it off.”

 “My light bill is over 100 dollars because I’m running my air (air conditioning), you know I’m on heart and blood pressure pills and have to stay cool.”

“I have to go get my medicine, it’s waiting at the doctors 149.00 dollars, I can’t even buy it.”

“My son has been to Iraq twice and I’m kinda scared he might have to make another trip…he may be going back a third term.”

“I don’t know who might get in the White House, but I’m hoping it be Obama.”

I believe he would do what he could for us, because right now we are looking at a 90 million dollar shortfall for Medicaid.”

“It is so bad, that when we do go to the doctor, they don’t do anything for us, they send us home. People are going to simply die.”

"We will be crawling out of this when my children are 90 years old."

Greenville, Mississippi

In the queue at St Vincent De Paul charity I met a young mother whose income had dropped below the poverty line. (audio below)

”We were doing just fine until two years ago when the government started jacking up oil and gas prices. Money has tore apart my marriage. It has made my husband go crazy.”

“Gas prices are over four dollars a gallon and I don’t know if I have enough gas right now to leave the parking lot. I mean I’m dead broke”

“I came here to get people to help me feed my kids because I can’t afford to make it to my first pay-day.”

“Our whole lifestyle has totally changed. Blue collar people like me who work for 12-20 dollars per hour might as well be working for two dollars per hour because our money doesn’t go anywhere.”

“Blue collar people don’t have a chance to make it right now in our country and it is only going to get worse if they vote in another Republican. Mc Cain is one of the main oil drillers in our country. He is making all these promises but I would much rather see Obama or Hilary get in.”

“I have never used social services and here I am crying and begging these people to help me. I don’t get food stamps. I pay my taxes. I do what I’m supposed to do.”

“And he is still spending billions of dollars a month in Iraq for a war that is not supposed to be happening.”

“My cousin just died two months ago in Iraq and you tell me there is no war?”

“I am usually a very political person that really believes in God and leadership and our military, but our commander in chief is deeming our military straight to hell and I’m sorry to say that.”

“I pray to God Obama does make change, but I will believe it when I see it.”

“I’m ready to see a black President, I’m ready to see a woman President, I’m ready for change because I am telling you as long as a Republican sits in that chair it’s only going to get worse.”

“President Bush has done nothing but cause war for the American people and we will be crawling out of this when my children are 90 years old.”


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