Two years have passed since a photo of activist Ieshia Evans during an encounter with police garnered national attention. During that time, Evans said people have learned she is not quite the passive protester she has been depicted as.
“I’ve had people who see the picture, and they have this idea in their head of who they want me to be,” Evans told HuffPost. “And when they get a glimpse of who I actually am, they don’t like it.”
A Reuters photographer snapped the now-iconic picture of Ieshia Evans on July 9 during a protest in Baton Rouge, La., following the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of police. In the photo, Evans is approaching police officers in full riot gear. Wearing a long flowing dress and with an expressionless face, Evans exudes tranquility and an aura of calm.
The famous photo earned Evans a reputation she never asked for. While she does not condone violence, there’s much more than meets the eye.
“I’m not against protesting peacefully, and I’m not pro-violence, but I’m definitely in favor of defending yourself,” she said to HuffPost. “When people hear the way I speak, they’re usually like, ‘uhh, this is not what I thought. We thought you were just about peace and holding hands!'”
Evans has remained an advocate for social justice in the two years that followed the iconic picture. HuffPost reported:
But the time she’s spent as a lightning rod for social change has taught her about the snail’s pace at which that change arrives. And as a student of previous movements for social justice, she longs for the assertiveness that characterized activists from the civil rights movement and the black power movement that followed.
Evans is looking for people who want to make long, actionable change — not just being the next trending topic on Twitter.
“I’d like to see more whistleblowing,” she told the publication. “People of good conscience, people with a good heart — like some people back in the ’60s. When they were risking their lives, it wasn’t just them standing in protest. It wasn’t something like what I did, standing in front of police officers. Even though that’s dangerous, there are more worthwhile efforts, like uncovering the truth about what’s really going on.”
And as for her personal story, Evans wants to leave behind a legacy of activism.
“I think I will be remembered as a peaceful protester who saw injustice going on and took a stand,” she said.
“I’d like to be remembered as a revolutionary.”