Photos of a Black Florida high school senior wearing a prom dress printed with grayscale portraits of several Black people killed by police and White vigilantes went viral on Twitter and Instagram over the weekend. The teen reveals in a Buzzfeed interview today (April 24) that her dress prompted praise from one of those victims’ mothers, Sybrina Fulton.
Milan Bolden-Morris says Fulton, whose son Trayvon Martin’s face looms large on the dress, contacted her after the Friday night (April 21) prom and said she was “proud of how bold” she was in wearing it. The gown’s train features many other photos whose subjects—Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown among them—inspired protests and calls for accountability that manifest in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The teenager also emphasizes that she wore the dress to draw attention to Black victims of police and vigilante violence, not to promote herself. ”The message behind it was not for me, not to show how good I look in the dress or get publicity for me,” she says. “It’s about how these lives were taken under unnecessary circumstances.”
Designer Terrence Torrence, the teen’s family friend, designed the dress for Bolden-Morris. He tells Buzzfeed that he wanted to add more than the 15 images he included, but ran out of space. “If I could put everybody on there, I’d probably still be adding people on, it’s sad to say,” he adds.