The image I chose to write about depicts George Corley Wallace’s inauguration in Birmingham, Alabama, where he addressed the issue of the freedom rides of the African American activists in the South and the attack on the two busses carrying them, that took place near the town. The reason I chose this specific image, is because I found very interesting how the creators of this graphic novel chose to juxtapose the seemingly rigid statements of the 45th governor of Alabama, with the true nature of the situation, which seemed much more like a generalized call for change.
Wallace’s inaugural address is accurately depicted in the novel. Of course, his speech is not given at its full extent, however the words in which he chose to express his famous statement against integration are given precisely as he uttered them. The event is presented in a heightened, almost cinematographic manner: the angry expression of his face is closely portrayed, and the hatred his words carry is further illustrated by the choice of the novelists to include different segments of his sentences in different dialogue boxes, in order to stress them. The picture in the right of the page is especially intimidating; It is drawn as if the artist was watching the speech from the first row, and Wallace’s utmost call for segregation, “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” is presented right in front of the emblematic Capitol of Montgomery, Alabama. Furthermore, this phrase of his is extensively segmented, with every two words it includes included in a different dialogue box, highlighting how they created the feeling of cutting the air like arrows.
However, what I found more interesting than how the actual historical event was presented, is how the thoughts of the members of the Movement about it were presented extensively right next to the governor’s words. As the authors inform us, the SLS had a meeting to decide its next move right while the inaugural address was taking place. The Movement had already achieved desegregation in many public spaces in several southern states, and this speech was merely the segregationists’ desperate effort to prove that the truth was different. “They needed a victory”, commented Fred Shuttlesworth, with Wallace’s words seeming like an attempt to convince initially themselves and after that the rest of the country that they had, and they would, successfully stop the Movement from achieving further victories. As it comes to the big picture in the right page, the governor’s seemingly rigid statements are infiltrated by the truth, namely that if the Movement comes to Birmingham, the situation will shift completely. Even his promise for “Segregation forever” is followed by Shuttlesworth comment, that this action of the Movement would “shake the country”. Segregation was a beast tyrannizing the South for years. And no matter how scary and intimidating his breaths might seem, through the depiction of the situation, it is made clear that they are some of its last.