Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee Honors Photographer Rod Rolle

By Joanne A Calitri   |   July 25, 2023
The MLKSB Committee honors Rod Rolle (seated center) (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara (MLKSB) held a celebration on Friday, July 14 to honor its official documentary photographer of 16 years, Rod Rolle, along with the exhibit of commemorative banners displaying 36 key photographs spanning 2008 to the present. The event took place at Soul Bites restaurant on State Street.

The soirée was packed and upbeat, with many friends of Rolle and the MLKSB including its Board of Directors Betsy Shelby, Dr. Jamece Brown, Juliet Velarde Betita, Anita Blume, John Douglas; Board Members Beverly King, Guy R. Walker, Annell andDr. Earl Stewart; guests Chris Johnson, RJ, Frances Moore, Taylor Johnson, Michael and JoAnne Young, John Higgins, Dr. Gregory Freeland, Ademola Oyewole-Davis, Miriam Dance, and SB City Council person Oscar Gutierrez.

MKLSB’s President E. onja Brown and Vice President Isaac Garrett welcomed the guests to celebrate the organization’s history and Rolle’s work for them. Brown acknowledged the local politicians present, and thanked the event sponsors: Healing Justice SB, Guy R. Walker of Wealth Management Strategies, and Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni. 

Brown provided a brief on Rolle’s photographic career spanning four decades, from 1975 in New York City through his education at Brooks Institute of Photography, and covering his historic journalism photographs distributed by Getty Images and SIPA USA, which sold to over 300 media outlets worldwide; his famous photograph of Michael Jackson, which won a Getty Images 2004 selection; his 2022 SBIFF images in Variety Magazine; his many art exhibitions, and his images for MLKSB. Rolle’s recent projects include developing a catalog of lighting recipes for headshots and portraits using Set-A-Light 3D V2.5 software and Avatar models. Brown shared, “Thank you for your belief in our mission, which allowed us to make a difference in the lives of many individuals. We thank Rod Rolle, whose images inspired people to believe in our cause and have a lasting effect.”

Shelby read a proclamation from MLKSB for Rolle and presented him with a plaque. 

Rod Rolle receives a Congressional Certificate from Congressman Salud Carbajal, presented by Carbajal’s staff (photo by Joanne A Calitri)

Rolle was then honored with a Congressional Certificate from Congressman Salud Carbajal presented by Carbajal’s staff person, and a Certificate from Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams presented by his staff person for Rolle’s historic body of photographs for the MLKSB organization, Santa Barbara County, and its public legacy for the same. Overcome with all the honors, Rolle humbly thanked the MLKSB Committee, and everyone for their acknowledgments of his work. He shared special thanks for his partner, Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, who was not able to attend.

After the program, the MLKSB committee with Rolle took time for photographs by yours truly for our readers. Additional program notes are in the videos, which will be with this story on the MJ website and MJ YouTube Channel.

The MJ joins in thanking Rod Rolle for his generous photographic contributions of the history of our town and especially of the work of the MLKSB Committee.  



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