Life exists as a continuum of many personalities and interests for Marcella David, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Florida A& M University. When she travels she is simultaneously lawyer, tourist, photographer, knitter and overall interested person. At times, one purpose will override another, so vacations may be linked to photographic opportunities while other trips give her insights into people of different cultures, informing her legal perceptions of law and international human rights.
David is a devoted academic and held many university positions prior to Tallahassee, with degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The University of Michigan Law School, and was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Public International Law at Harvard Law School. Working as an international lawyer has taken her abroad to places like Africa, Mexico, and Thailand. In one post-Gulf War investigation, she looked into the impact of economic sanctions and began asking to take people’s photographs during interviews to place a face with their stories.
“You’re trying to capture the relationship between the environment and people,” explains David. “I remember being in Iraq and talking to people whose house had been destroyed or who had lost somebody. Taking a picture of them in situ helped to demonstrate what happened to them.”
Her childhood home in Queens, New York, lies in the shadow of the former Shea Stadium, home of the Mets baseball franchise — David, now 52, brightly implies how this fact might have taught her to believe in hard luck stories with the ever-present possibility of redemption. Her enrollment at William Cooper High School gave her access to a specialized law program, and she was grateful to participate in the NYC mock trial competition that piqued her interest in the profession.
International law was of special interest as images from the Arab-Israeli conflict and South Africa’s apartheid flooded television news stations. David first studied engineering and was awarded scholarships in science before going on to law school. It was the act of leaving home that drew her into photography.
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