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Photograph taken at the start of 2015's Baltimore uprising became a sensation

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

For Black History Month, NPR asked the Smithsonian about some of the most notable examples of Black photographs in its collection. One striking image was captured not that long ago at a protest in 2015.

(SOUNDBITE OF HERBIE HANCOCK'S "ONE FINGER SNAP")

AARON BRYANT: My name is Aaron Bryant, and I'm curator of photography and visual culture at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF HERBIE HANCOCK'S "ONE FINGER SNAP")

BRYANT: Photography is so critical to all of our lives in being able to record important moments, events that have happened, and they provide evidence, as well as memory.

(SOUNDBITE OF LIONEL LOUEKE'S "ONE FINGER SNAP")

BRYANT: We have photographers like Devin Allen, who immediately, you know, during the Freddie Gray protest in Baltimore, pretty much overnight, became this sort of sensation in the world of photography worldwide. It was the very beginning of what we would know as the Baltimore uprisings. There's the photograph of the young man running down the middle of a street, and behind him is a line of police officers who are chasing him.

(SOUNDBITE OF LIONEL LOUEKE'S "ONE FINGER SNAP")

BRYANT: That image, within weeks, was on the front cover of Time magazine, and that helped Devin to explode, you know, someone who was an amateur photographer at the time. His images have become iconic, and he's recognized by photographers, photojournalists, editors, all over the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF DON BYRON'S "ONE FINGER SNAP")

BRYANT: And that's really powerful that a single photograph could do that - that he puts it on social media, it's shared by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people, including folks like Jay-Z or Beyonce or Rihanna or, you know, celebrities who have access to millions of people, and immediately, with this photograph, he becomes an overnight sensation. And that photograph that Devin took is most certainly iconic 'cause he captured a flashpoint that people will remember all their lives but also a flashpoint that has itself become not just a moment of time but a moment in history.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRANDEE YOUNGER'S "BEAUTIFUL IS BLACK")

MARTINEZ: That was Aaron Bryant, a curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.