The “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. before a crowd of some 250,000 people at the 1963 March on Washington, remains one of the most famous speeches in history. Martin Luther King Jr communicates that Blacks should be given the same unalienable rights as white men do, such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The eloquent speech was immediately recognized as a highlight of the successful protest, and has endured as one of the signature moments of the civil rights movement. I believe that MLK’s words are inspiring to millions of Americans including myself and this speech brought great attention to the Civil Rights Movement. In my opinion, his profound call to end racism was necessary to bring light and attention to what African Americans deserved.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize comes from an old spiritual song about continuing despite adversity. The lyrics were adapted during the Civil Rights Movement by activist Alice Wine in 1956. The song became a well known Civil Rights anthem, as the words tell about transcending oppression and persevering despite any struggle or obstacles that may arise in one's path. The repetition of “Keep your Eyes on the Prize” allows the listener to perceive as Alice Wine was telling African Americans that there is a light on the end of the tunnel. No matter what you face, such as jail or violence, you cannot let that get to you and affect how you end your fight. I personally stand by the message of this song, because there has been times I’ve given up on a task because of the obstacles I faced on the way, but I kept my eyes on my end goal and that motivated me to keep going strong.
In this article, author Gary Younge takes back readers to the glorifying time period of the the 1960’s in which the Civil Rights Movement swept the nation. Younge states that civil rights activism did not start in 1963, but rather a couple of years earlier. Younge gives examples such as young black students participating in non violent protests called Sit-Ins. However, it wasn’t until 1963 when the number of activists reached a critical mass. The southern struggle of young students sitting at lunch counters turned quickly into the largest mass movement for racial reform and civil rights. This article provided me with background information on how these protests began and the year of 1963 became the turning point for racial reform. Younge provides statistical data in this article that adds to my knowledge on the popularity of protests within Americans and the number of them who identified themselves as an activist for the Civil Rights Movement. I was surprised that only 23% of Americans were in favor of the marches and protests.
In this photograph, an associated press photographer by the name of Bill Hudson captures a Parker High School student Walter Gadsden being attacked by police dogs in Birmingham, Alabama on May 3, 1963. This photograph illustrates the growing conflict between activists and the federal government. As captured, it reveals the violence that occurred between the two opposing groups and how African Americans were being treated. This photograph is powerful because it reveals the essence of how the police and the government view the leaders and protestors. The focal point, Walter Gadsden, is the magnificent aspect of this photo. His emotions on his face reveal that African Americans during this time period were helpless, not given a choice to defend themselves during a time of vulnerability and arrest.
In this opinion article on Civil Rights Protest Resistance, Christian Clergy Members criticize how Americans voice their support for the cause of racial injustice but cling to the unrealistic standards of what protests should look like. They claim that the images of civil rights protests during the 1960’s illustrates a false sensus that these protests were nonviolent, even though most of them ended up in violent skirmishes. Member Michael Mcbride claims that the civil rights work of Martin Luther King were sabotaged by cautious moderates and overt racists. I don’t necessarily agree with the members opinions because they don’t focus on the accomplishments of these nonviolent protests. These marches and protests were groundbreaking and succeeded in getting equal rights for people of color. However, I do see their point on how today’s protests seem to have little to no change on legislation and morality.
The incident at Little Rock Nine will remain infamous for bringing attention on the issue of segregation in public schools. The “Little Rock Nine” were a group of African American students who volunteered to bring an end to segregation by enrolling in an all white public school. However, many Americans were discontent of this ruling and riots broke out in the city of Arkansas. This painting illustrates the “Little Rock Nine” students who were under serious criticism by an white crowd, hence the Great White Sharks drawn in the picture. The comparison of the crowd to Great White Sharks makes an impact on how I perceive this image. I perceive the crowd to be harsh,demeaning, and belligerent. Using artistic abilities to illustrate the students fears as they live through this, adds to my astonishment on how artists can communicate the impact of the Civil Rights Movement.