Civil Rights Photograph

The photograph that I took captures a moment in which two Civil Rights protestors are being constricted to a corner, more specifically students of the SNCC within Southern Carolina. The slogan seen in the poster ‘We Shall Overcome’ was considered the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement ; as it was adapted from the struggles of the labor movements and brought to a rally for the SNCC in South Carolina, from which it spread.  The scene depcited in the photo is particulary showing a scene where the two students dressed in all black, to show solidarity, are being forced away and silenced against a corner in the midst of their protests. It is an action shot, expressing the chaos in the moment as the viewer can make out a sort of stick or baton (representation of the police and their violent approach to black protestors), which alludes the possibility of violence to come upon the individuals in this scene. The woman in the foreground is clearly holding up her hands in a show of compliance and fear to the person behind the baton. This is in contrast with her counterpart, as he is still standing resolute holding the sign ‘We Shall Overcome’ in defiance of the authority they are both facing.  The photo was taken against a wall and in an enclosed space to show the attempt made by white supremacists and those in support of segregation and discrimination, to silence the voices which were against their ideals of ‘seperate but equal’. The image is from a bird’s eye view, to show the perspective of those protesting from a policeman, or even a white man’s place symbolizing their authority and power, thus the reason for why the camera is looming above the two people. Furthermore, it is in black and white so to fit with the time frame (1960’s) , as well as sets a somber tone signifying to the viewer the message behind the picture………..

The SNCC embraced non violent approaches while advocating for their rights and for a change. Their refusal to fight back the forces opposing them brought national attention with which they were able to showcase their efforts on a larger scale. The SNCC’s emergence as a force in the southern civil rights movement came largely through the involvement of students in the 1961 Freedom Rides. The Congress of Racial Equality initially sponsored the Freedom Rides that began in May 1961, but segregationists viciously attacked riders traveling through Alabama. By the time the Interstate Commerce Commission began enforcing the ruling mandating equal treatment in interstate travel in November 1961, SNCC was immersed in voter registration efforts in McComb, Mississippi, and a desegregation campaign in Albany, Georgia, known as the Albany Movement. Continuing to advocate and fight for the overturning of segregation in the South and giving young African Americans a stronger voice in the civil rights movement in America.

3 Thoughts.

  1. Hey Nardos,
    I liked that you didn’t only take a picture of a person, and that you included a poster. The analysis that you made showed me that certain pictures can have much more deeper meanings than we think, because your photograph actually has a story to it. I wonder what inspired you to take that picture instead of one about the sit-ins like most of us did?

  2. Hi Nardos,
    I really enjoyed your blog post because of the depth of analysis you brought in. On the other hand, even though it was a good and original idea to choose an action shot, I found it quite hard to see everything you are describing such as the bird’s eye view. It seems as if you had an idea and you were forcing you perspective upon the reader. The blurriness of the picture made it hard for me to get the idea of what was happening in the photograph. However, the use of the poster and the implication of it was nicely explain in your post which was for me the strongest part of your analysis.

    Best regards,
    Charles Mercier

  3. Hi Nardos,
    This post indeed reveals analysis of various elements of an image. I agree with your classmates in that the analysis seems to reveal more than the photograph itself does, and several themes such as power and determination are evident. Rarely does the viewer know what is happening from all perspectives – protestor, police and photographer – so how might this be more accurately reflected in the written description of the photo?
    The knowledge of SNCC is also useful for some context. What else might be added to the information so it is less one-sided?

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