Visual journalist Alyssa Pointer started the year with the publication of a months-long project covering Harper Archer Elementary, a “turnaround” school working to help students in a low-income area get a foundation for success. The optimism of that project hit the wall of COVID-19 when the school had to close because of the pandemic -- leaving teachers and administrators concerned about the progress the students were making.

Soon Pointer like her colleagues on the visual team was in a foreign landscape. “It was very interesting to be out and about, knowing I was one of the few people considered essential workers, documenting what Atlanta was looking like, documenting what the state of Georgia was looking like during coronavirus,” she said.

Pointer volunteered to cover the peaceful march and rally in downtown Atlanta after George Floyd’s death. It was peaceful at the beginning, but at the end of the march, tension mounted with the police and eventually erupted. “It was the first time I was in a conflict situation,” she said. That protest touched off weeks of protests in the area. During her coverage of the protests, Pointer was wrongly detained despite her visible identification as a journalist.

Pointer was also key in the AJC’s coverage of John Lewis’ memorials and funeral. She was the only photographer allowed in Ebenezer Baptist Church for Lewis’ funeral. Her photographs were distributed throughout the world.

As a Georgia native, Pointer had a keen interest in covering politics. With the historic count and recounts after the presidential election. “I thought really great I was able to document that and be a part of (capturing) that historical change of the state from red to blue.”

One of Pointer’s images from the funeral of 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, who was killed at the site of Rayshard Brooks’ shooting, made Time Magazine’s Top 100 photos of year. This was the second consecutive year she was recognized by the magazine.

Watch this Behind the Lens video for Alyssa Pointer’s perspective on 2020:

Behind the lens 2020: Alyssa Pointer

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