Unit 4, assignment 2

I chose to analyze the panel at the bottom of page 73, which depicts the freedom riders disembarking their bus in Montgomery, Alabama. When viewing this illustration, what first jumped out to me were the crowds. The wide angle and birds eye views captures dozens of people found in two main groups: a racist, white mob encircling the freedom riders’ bus, and the freedom riders, huddled together out of fear. The scene’s inclusion of so many people conveys the chaos and danger of the event, in a way that a book or even a photograph couldn’t; it would take pages to describe everything going on in this instant, all the dialogue, all the actions, all the people, and a photograph is limited by reality; the photographer would be standing on the ground, plus the dialogue would be lost. The scariness and destruction of the event is unmistakable, but there is hope in this picture as well. The tight cluster of freedom riders, poised to run, or fight, or hold strong, is inspiring. Their strength in the face of such violent bigotry is hard to imagine, but this picture does a good job of conveying it. The fact that this is an illustration allows the author to optimize every part of the scene to convey its most powerful aspects (and bias, too). This illustration also does a good job of showing what is happening, but also what isn’t happening; no one is there to help, perhaps a result of the bystander effect. Although this picture inspires me and demonstrates the strength and commitment of the freedom riders, its strongest effect might be the disgust it invokes in me at the mob. It makes me want to distance myself from any part of the mob; the hate they show is disturbing, and their mob mentality is shown through the wide angle of the scene.

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