Memphis native Chris Dean came into the public eye when in 2011 as an 18-year-old senior at Booker T. Washington High School he charmed audiences, local and internet, with his introduction of special guest President Obama. Memphis Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck was interested in Dean’s life before and after Obama’s visit. Dean, whose father died in a gang shootout, worked with Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Alan Spearman on a special project detailing life in South Memphis as it is really lived. The online special, which combines text, video, poetry and photography is called “What Obama Didn’t See.”
Dean and Alan Spearman spent eight weeks in Dean’s South Memphis neighborhood — walking the streets of his daily life. The results, captured by Spearman and cinematographer Mark Adams, and paired with Dean’s observations of the place where he spent most of his life.
Explore Dean’s world through the Spearman and Dean’s photo essay and the video As I Am.
Memphis is still troubled by high poverty, teen pregnancy, infant mortality and gang activity. But Memphis has always long been at the heart of the battle against poverty and for civil rights.