Chicago Churches A Photographic Essay Boy

Divisions, intolerance and a biased political process have influenced Detroit for several decades before and since the 1967 uprising. The idea for “Split” was born after meeting Detroiters who live behind the Wailing Wall, built in the 1940’s to separate white and black neighborhoods.

I found it compelling that these residents had such a blatant, physical reminder of racism literally in their backyards. This led me on a journey to learn more about how barriers of the past still haunt the city today. I wanted to let the people tell their city’s story themselves.

This photo essay is the result of research and dozens of interviews over the last five years that focused on the Wailing Wall and on the demolition of Paradise Valley, a culturally rich black neighborhood in the heart of Motown that was destroyed to build the Chrysler Freeway (I-75).

The lingering scars of housing segregation and other injustices relate to Detroit’s current crisis. Past struggles that have never been reconciled still trouble Motown. The story of Detroit is complex with no simple answers and “Split” aims to capture the stories of faith, survival and hope that remain.

See all 45 photos below, or click the first image to open a slideshow:

Nick Gregory is a teacher and basketball coach at Fenton Area Schools, as well as a prolific photographer and writer. His photo essay, "Split," was featured at the 2013 Grand Rapids Art Prize. It comes to Michigan Radio as a part of our series Summer of Rebellion: Looking Back at Detroit 1967.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nick Gregory has been a social studies teacher in Michigan since 2000 and he has been a National Writing Project Teacher consultant and a high school basketball coach since 2002. Gregory is an America Achieves Lead Fellow and he has exhibited photography related to Detroit and Flint social justice causes since 2011. Gregory, who has a Masters degree in Educational Leadership, believes that students need to learn from honest accounts of American history in order to tackle today's challenges. You can follow Nick Gregory on Twitter @CivicsEngaged or read his blog at

Recently a church bombing in Peshawar at All Saints Church resulted in one of the deadliest attacks on Pakistan’s Christian minority in years. After Hindus, Christians are Pakistan’s second-largest minority group in the country’s chiefly Muslim population. While visiting Pakistan in 2011, photojournalist Nushmia Khan photographed a Christian community in Lahore. She shares this photo essay to raise awareness of Pakistan’s Christians.

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Shahnaz’s smile was contagious. Each morning she came and swept our home of the dust it had accumulated in just 24 hours. Dust in Lahore never stops: it gets in your fingernails, your nostrils, in between your toes. She ate from the same plates, and the other servants would sometimes complain about this. In any other household, she’d be given different plates, made from a cheaper tin material. Plates for Christians. But of all the servants, I was most comfortable around her. I felt a bit intrusive, but I finally asked her whether I could go to church with her one Sunday.

Once I reached there, the church organizers noticed that I was taking more than just a few pictures, they confronted me and made me promise that I was taking them for educational purposes, that I wouldn’t share them with any Pakistani newspapers. There had been too many attacks in recent days and they didn’t need anybody to find them. Once I realized the entire room was feeling endangered, I had to stop photographing.

They were angry with Shahnaz’s family after my visit. It was sad to see a minority group in my parent’s country feel so endangered. I have been too used to acting like an “oppressed minority” as a Muslim in America only because I might get a few looks and questions every once in a while. I should not forget how hard it has become in countries where I am in the majority, where people who practice a faith other than Islam are scared for their safety. This was not the way of our Prophet.

Here are the photos I was able to take.

I was expecting pews, but everyone in the church was sitting on the floor, like Pakistani Muslims. Like Pakistani Muslims, they were segregated, and all of the women were wearing dupattas or scarves, to honor the sanctity of the space. It was the Christmas celebration, so all the little girls were in their white dresses and the boys in their suits.

 All of the young girls were wearing white dresses for the Church’s Christmas celebration.

An elderly woman singing along with a Christmas carol.The celebration included several Christmas carols in in English and in Urdu, a lecture by the priest and a long prayer at the end.

Other than a few large Christmas banners and red rose petals, there were no Christmas lights and there was no Christmas tree. This was Dhala, a village of cooks, gardeners and drivers for the nearby wealthy Modeltown neighborhood.

Rose petals were used to decorate for the Christmas celebration.

Like Muslims, all of the adults made their prayers by facing their cupped palms upwards.

The children, on the other hand, were taught to pray as Western Christians do, with their palms touching.

During Sunday School, the children were taught to perform the song “Joy to the World.”

A women praying with her hands cupped in the same way that Muslims make supplications.

Three of the children on their way to Sunday School. During the weekdays, they attend the Teach A Child School, which funds K-12 education for students who cannot afford schooling.

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Nushmia Khan is a video and photojournalist based out of Chicago. She received her Bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has had a range of experience through working for newspapers, such as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, political campaigns and a documentary film company. In addition to visual journalism, Nushmia is interested in middle eastern languages and Islamic studies, for which she has worked and studied in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. View her portfolio.


Tags:ChristiansLahoreMuslimsNushmia KhanPakistanPhotos

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