Five years ago, when news of Michael Brown Jr.’s police shooting death spread, two strangers made their way to the Ferguson Police Department to protest. A local photographer, Robert Cohen, captured the moment.

In the photo, a young African American man’s face is twisted in anguish, tears streaming down his cheeks. Next to him, an older woman extends her hand to his shoulder in comfort.

The photo would go on the win the Pulitzer Prize, along with 18 other photos taken by photographers with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Earlier this summer, those two strangers, Jamell Spann and Elizabeth Vega, came to StoryCorps to remember that pivotal moment, and the friendship that grew out of it.


Top photo: Jamell Spann and Elizabeth Vega are photographed on Monday, August 11, 2014 as police officers in riot gear clear demonstrators from the area surrounding the Ferguson Police Department. Hundreds had arrived to protest the police shooting of Michael Brown Jr. AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen
Bottom photo: Elizabeth Vega and Jamell Spann at their StoryCorps interview in St. Louis, Missouri on June 27, 2019. By Dupe Oyebolu for StoryCorps.

Originally aired on August 9, 2019 on NPR’s Morning Edition.