Unit 4, Post 2- Lauren Meyers

This image represents the moments following the Freedom Riders’ arrival 5 miles outside of Montgomery, Alabama on May 20th, 1961. Remnants from the battle lie on the street outside of the Greyhound bus station, and this brutal outcome is juxtaposed with text overlay reading “MY COUNTRY, ‘TIS OF THEE.” The masses on the ground look like dead people. Readers are accustomed to seeing violence in this book, so this assumption is easy to make. The masses could very well be people, and I think that this was a strategic move by the illustrator to stress how whites saw the Freedom Riders as inhuman, comparable to nonliving, material things. This text is strategically placed, stretching along the road, portraying the black man’s long journey to justice and freedom. The image, unlike the majority of images in the book, is not confined to borders. It serves as more of a backdrop that represents the outcome of the events occurring in the images confined to borders. There is not much movement or action in this image, creating an atmosphere of hopelessness and defeat. This image stresses the absurdity of the current state of affairs in the United States. Though the US had placed freedom and democracy at the center of its founding documents, this obviously was not being executed. This is stressed by the juxtaposition of the wreckage from the violence imposed upon the black people and the text overlay that dubs the United States as the “Sweet land of liberty” in the next line of the song. Though I had always known that the authors of the law were the ones breaking the law, this image emphasizes the phenomenon’s absurdity. The very violation of the laws that gifted liberty and justice to all citizens were the way that things were supposed to go. Why is the fight necessary? The white man does not need any new legislation or Supreme Court decisions in order to have freedom because he was promised these things when the country was founded. Why does the black man need legislation when he was promised these same things?

Leave a Reply