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How Devin Allen's photo made it to Pope Francis' hands

Devin Allen's Instagram shot from last April that became the cover of Time magazine.
Devin Allen's Instagram shot from last April that became the cover of Time magazine. (Devin Allen)

Pope Francis is now familiar with Devin Allen's work.

At the Vatican today, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom presented a book of 10 striking Instagram images to the Pope in an effort to show the popular app's power and reach, Time magazine reports.

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Among shots of refugees arriving in Greece and the destruction caused by an earthquake in Nepal, the book featured Allen's photo of a protester running from baton-wielding police during last year's Freddie Gray-related unrest. It was used as the cover of Time's May 11, 2015 issue, an honor only two nonprofessional photographers could claim before. The image led to a solo show of Allen's photographs at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, and coverage from national publications.

Reached via Twitter, the 26-year-old self-taught photographer from West Baltimore said he couldn't believe his shot had reached the hands of the Pope.

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"This just inspired me to keep going and work harder," Allen wrote in a direct message. "Just seeing that [gives] me much needed energy."

In July 2015, Paul Moakley, Time's deputy director of photography, discussed the image's power with the Sun.

Student activists who convinced Towson University's interim president to sign a pledge to improve diversity and fight discrimination on campus earned a mention in Time magazine's "Person of the Year" issue.

"That was the moment when the situation went from being a peaceful protest to riots breaking out," Moakley said, "and Devin captured it perfectly."

At 6:30 tonight, Allen will moderate a conversation about police brutality at Philadelphia's non-profit cultural center Slought with other local activists including Duane Davis, Malacka Reed EL and Tawanda Jones. The series, titled "The Shadow of the State: From Tyrone West to Freddie Gray," will also feature activists J.C. Faulk, Michael Wood and the viewing of a documentary based on the Black Lives Matter movement in Baltimore. At the end, Baltimore rapper Al Rogers Jr. will perform "Honey," a song inspired by the unrest.

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