The scene where the children of Birmingham marched in the park and got the fire hoses and dogs on them stood out to me. I hadn’t before given much thought to the role children had in these dangerous protests as well. For starters, I was surprised at how quickly the police arrested them, and how hostile the reaction from Bull Connor turned. It’s heartbreaking.
At the same time, this scene showed a nuanced moment of impact from the children on the police. On pg. 134, we see one white officer turn to another and say apprehensively, “Hey, FRED… uh… how many more HAVE you got?” while holding his hat and looking distraught. Despite the horrific display of violence against those children in Birmingham, their presence not only was an amazing image for the movement, but effectively disrupted the oppression of the police, if only in their brief apprehensiveness.
I chose this image on pg. 135 in particular because the image is powerful– and one of familiarity. In the background, we can see an officer directing kids to march into the back of the police truck, to their arrests– and the kids are going, just like following the lien through the hallway at school. In the foreground, we see the sweetest girl, with a braid, Mary Janes, the cute young-kid mumble, and a protest sign. It reads, “Can a man love God and hate his brother?” This is perfectly related to what Prof. Wills is explaining in class– how Christianity was used both as a means to perpetuate and dismantle racism.
This image also displays our motif of the absurdity of these oppressive, racist, actions. If the image were blatant enough in showing the ridiculousness of an officer asking why the young girl is protesting, the page says it right at the bottom: it was an embarrassment to the city.
I like this image most in the book because it seems to be a familiar one, one that I’ve seen many times in the civil rights movement. Most notably in my mind, the painting “The Problem We All Live With,” picturing Ruby Bridges being escorted to school. Though it’s not exactly the same, for some reason the image in the book immediately made me want to reference it. Maybe they strike me as similar because the young girls hold themselves with such resolve and power, while at the same time appearing to be innocent and in a sense powerless with the guards next to them.
Because this image takes up an entire page, it is certainly meant to stand out to the reader. It is curious to me that the policeman is on his knees to be the same level as the young girl. Is he there to get onto her level in some form of twisted sympathy? Or does him being eye-to-eye with her assert his dominance better than if he towered above her?