ACTIVISTNYC Photographer’s Top Five Memories in Documenting Activism

The creator of ACTIVISTNYC shares five of their most compelling memories in their career of documenting human rights activism movements.

Activist NYC is a documentary photo project about activism and social justice movements in New York City. I was inspired to create Activist NYC after witnessing injustices happening in the streets during Occupy Wall Street.

I was angered by the negative portrayal of activists and I wanted to show the diversity of the people in the streets. I wanted to focus on the positive aspects of protest and activism, and my goal is to highlight the communities that are doing the work and fighting for change.

This is a series I am deeply passionate about and have been honored to capture the spirit that marched through different protests and movements. These are five of the most indelible and striking moments from being a photographer of social justice and activism.

I have selected five of the most compelling and striking moments during my journey as photographer of activism in NYC. These are moments where I have captured the spirit and tenacity of so many different communities, and seen the power of their passion.

Yemeni Bodega Strike



After Donald Trump passed his first Muslim ban, the Yemeni American community in New York closed all their bodegas and gathered in downtown Brooklyn in protest. The energy of the crowd was like nothing I’ve experienced before. Despite this horrible act from Trump’s administration, the people were laughing and singing and chanting in high spirits. They screamed on the top of their lungs that they love America and how America is their home. It was really moving and heartfelt.




Vigil for Charleston massacre



After white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the entire country was in mourning. The response from New York activists was so emotional. I’ll never forget the tears coming down everyone’s faces, it made me so extremely sad for our country.




Women’s March in D.C.



The first Women’s March in DC was not perfect but it was definitely the largest gathering of people for a cause that I have ever been to. The sight of the sheer number of people was amazing.





My first viral photo



When Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, MI and the country erupted in protests, I photographed a student walk-out in Union Square, NY. One of my photos went viral on the Internet and gave me the start to the following I have today. Since then, I have grown my social media accounts significantly.




Pride Parade with Amnesty International



After discovering my Activist NYC project on the Internet, I was asked by Amnesty International to photograph for them during Pride Parade. It was the most fun I’ve ever had photographing an event. The energy was so positive and uplifting and very welcoming of people from all different backgrounds.





Documenting these protests and marches is important to me because it is documenting a piece of our history. When I look at photos from the Civil Rights movement, I am inspired to create my photos for those in the future; people might look at my work and remember our history.

American history has seen the weight of so many topics that are still relevant today. New York is a space loaded with historical organization, all the way up in the Bronx and Harlem, all the way to Brooklyn. Black scholars and activists and their allies have come together throughout history to pave the way for us today. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X., Angela Davis, Nina Simone, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, all shared space, words and ideas in New York, and you can feel their legacy in the air.

Photography is so important and significant because it has the power to move people and change their perspectives. It has the power to educate and show people what is really going on. We all have a role we can play in the fight for justice and equality; I hope to impact people across the world through my images and tell stories of marginalized people and their fighting spirits.

Cindy Trinh is a photographer and visual journalist who is passionate about social justice and human rights. Her work has been published and featured by popular media, including Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Daily News, .Mic, Hyperallergic, The Culture Trip, AlterNet, Epoch Times, Angry Asian Man, The Indypendent, and much more. Cindy is the creator of the popular media account Activist NYC, a documentary photo project about activism and social justice movements in New York City. Her work is currently exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York.