American Journeys is framed by a two-month drive from San Francisco to New York. Documentary photographer, Jessie Parks, and journalist, Katy Long, interviewed and photographed over 100 migrants, refugees, and "locals" in 21 states, documenting how immigration has shaped communities and understandings of national American identity.
The project explores the different contexts of welcome and inclusion—from wealthy coastal cosmopolitan cities to small rust-belt rural communities.
The project includes not only the voices of immigrants but also “locals” living in the communities visited, to understand their thoughts about what it means to be American today, and who should be allowed to belong. There is a particular interest in understanding how local dynamics intersect with national conversations, and the impact on recent US federal policy changes—resulting in increased fears of deportation for many immigrants, reduced refugee resettlement numbers, and narrowing visa opportunities for workers and businesses.
Katy and Jessie first collaborated in 2017 on a feature for The Guardian. This work focused on a small community, Clarkston, Georgia. It documented how locals welcome refugees to the Deep South.
Katy has spent 12 years working on refugee and migrant issues, first as an academic researcher in the U.K., and then working on policy development and evaluation (UNHCR, The Sutherland Report).
Jessie's work as a photographer has focused on giving a voice to the unheard. In recent years she has been primarily concerned with documenting the lives of immigrants and the displaced, both close to her native Atlanta, and in Iraqi Kurdistan where she lived for several months in 2016 and 2017.
For images and updates, follow us on Instagram @americanjourneysproject or @missjessieparks