The symbolism on page 135 of John Lewis’ March: Book 2 conveys the culture of domineering and repressive police force in America. Page 135 depicts the youth strike in Birmingham that was met with violent attacks by police using water hoses and dogs. A little girl is seen holding a picket sign and talking to an officer. He asks her what she wants. She responds, “f’eedom.” She is so young that she cannot even pronounce freedom correctly, yet she is marching for her life. The officer has a confused, aggravated look on his face, while the girl is direct and powerful. The facial expressions of the two subjects show the purpose behind their respective groups. The actions and beliefs of whites in the south at this time were absurd. The officer’s face symbolizes the confused, unnecessary, and unreasonable state of white people at this time in the midst of the Jim Crow era. He also bears a confederate flag on his sleeve which symbolizes the prolonged connection between law in the south and the confederacy. The girl’s face symbolizes the opposite. She represents the persistence and faithfulness of the Civil Rights Movement.
In the background, a police officer towers over black children as he directs them towards a van. The juxtaposition of the officer and the children epitomizes the contrast between southern white values and the Civil Rights Movement. The officer’s face is sorrowful, but it is likely that he isn’t sorry for the kids. He is mourning the death of Jim Crow not the arrest of children.
What strikes me the most is in the sky. The clouds are parting and light is shining through. I interpret this as the presence of God with the children. The Civil Rights Movement relied heavily on religion and the faithfulness of African-Americans. Figures like Martin Luther King Jr. used religion as grounds for peaceful protest. The parting of the clouds symbolizes God’s grace over the protestors and His protection of the prosecuted.