‘I AM A MAN’ Puts You at the Heart of the Civil Rights Struggle

‘I AM A MAN’ Puts You at the Heart of the Civil Rights Struggle


I AM A MAN is an upcoming interactive VR experience that lets you participate in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and the events leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Created by Dr. Derek Ham, an assistant professor of Graphic Design at NC State University, I AM A MAN was a winner of Oculus’ 2017 Launch Pad, a program designed to help fund VR content from diverse backgrounds.

It’s a natural thing to look at your own hands in VR. Maybe it’s to establish yourself in the virtual world, or maybe it’s just to see how the developers envisioned one of the most personal things in your possession. Appearing in an alley with two trash cans by my side, I peer down to see a pair of black hands. Of course, they’re no more ‘black’ than my physical hands are ‘white’. Outside of VR, my hands are actually a pale pink color, and my new ‘black’ hands are actually a soft brown that lightens near the palms and the finger tips. When it comes to race, I rely on the imperfect words that resonate with the historical context; both the laughably imprecise and shockingly hateful ones that existed both then and now.

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