Sam Heie: Unit 4, Assignment 2

Page 108-9 depicts a scene in a Mississippi prison in which Freedom Riders who had been charged with Breach of the Peace, a broad legal term encompassing any acts that violently or noisily disturb the status quo, are released just days before their bond fees are due. The Freedom Riders had been tormented and dehumanized by the guards in the days preceding their release. However, during the time that their mattresses had been stripped, they had been hosed, and verbally accosted, they insisted that no treatment could remove their passion and their firm conviction in their beliefs.

The scene on the former half of the spread shows the Freedom Riders’ own surprise at their release. Their bond had been posted and their clothes and possessions were given back, perhaps symbolism nodding to the Riders rekindling their identity and individuality that had been stripped during their time inside prison. The ladder half of the spread shows the former prisoners walking on a winding road fading into the distance. There is a color contrast between the first and second page, the first using a black background and the second using a white background. I think the color contrast is meant to incite two things: freedom and hope. Freedom from the oppressive system and hope for progress. The narrations match this description as the second page talks about how their movement had become nationwide and how the federal government had become involved.

I think that these two pages convey an unprecedented and unexpected turn of events for the Freedom Riders. They had prepared themselves to deal with the taunts and borderline torture of prison and continuing their rides, but were instead granted release. An entirely new sense of gratification that they had never experienced in their time riding surfaced. To me, this seems like the turning point of the story. They had only been met with resistance up until now, but as the narrator says, they had “stirred the national consciousness and awoke[n] the hearts and minds of a generation.”

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