This post centers around the depictions and speech bubbles of protesting Birmingham youth in the civil right comic book, March 2. Analyses how the civil rights movement used rhetoric that helped them turn public opinion in their favor.
I chose a selection of pages that discussed the March of the Birmingham youth. At the bottom of 132 you can see the panels zoom closer and closer to a particular youth in the crowd. In the first panel he is only depicted as part of the larger march. But the following panels, get closer to where we get a glimpse into his eyes and can see the individual beads of sweat roll down his face. In this moment you can feel the fear and hesitancy he must be feeling in the moment. This strongly resembles the Ghandi clip we watched in class; the camera man zoomed in to different members of the salt march so that viewer could feel the emotion of fear. In both representations of nonviolence protest, the viewer is forced to confront the individual sacrifice and conviction to the cause in the participant’s faces. The following page (134) zooms out and gives the reader a broader view of the conflict with depictions showing the march and the resulting arrests of young children. However, these panels zoom out and let the reader forget that these are children marching. This effect makes page 135 particularly shocking and motivating. Page 135 depicts a young girl requesting “F’eedom” from a burly cop as a line of children is being arrested. This image is jarring due to the juxtaposition between the young girl and the cop. The girl’s simple response of “F’eedom” hammers home the absurdity of the situation. The viewer when confronted by this panel is forced to ask themselves “is this real?”, “did this actually happen”. The absurdity of the young girl simply asking for freedom, one of the core principles the US was founded on as other eight-year-olds are arrested for peaceful protest is as shocking an image the illustrator could have drawn. This scene being the ultimate culmination of the close ups of the children shows that while the children are fearful of what will happen to them during the march, they are willing to participate in the name of freedom. This demonstrates the idea of “Dramatizing the Scene” that Professor Wills mentioned. The goal of nonviolent protest is to make the absurdity of Jim Crow or other issues so blatant the public can’t avoid it or play it off. The depiction of the little girl standing up to the law adds a layer of innocence and emotion that forces the general public to address what is going on. At least for me, these pages elicited emotions of embarrassment that this happened in our country and confusion. These panels confound to why cops and people of the time though it was justified to arrest these young children. To arrest young kids who are begging for the one thing that is guaranteed to every citizen in the country is an embarrassment to the ideals this country was founded on.
These feelings of embarrassment and confusion that I experienced while reading these panels demonstrate the purpose of this comic. In a plenary session with Prof. Wills she told us how John Lewis was inspired the comic book “Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Story”. Prof. Wills additionally told the class how Lewis along with one of the Greensboro 4 read this comic and how it stirred them into action. Lewis wrote March 2 to have a similar impact that the Montgomery Story had on him. The dialogue and images are intended to stir people into continuing the fight for civil rights. The dialogue and images are intended to draw attention to the fight and actions of previous civil rights leaders, in the hopes of inspiring the next generation. The impact of these written works show how written language can be manipulated to stir public opinion and others into action.