THESIS: The civil rights movements opened a new chapter in the nation’s history. African-Americans were embroiled in a vicious war that aimed to end discriminatory and segregation laws. They fought “the war of a lifetime” in which they demanded suffrage, educational and housing rights. In addition, they wanted equal access to employment opportunities as well as the abolishment of state and federal laws, which discriminated against them in public places.
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- The civil rights movement
- Demand for full civil liberties
- Discrimination in Churches and other public places
- Use of visual symbols and metaphors
- Use of Irony
- Use of caricatures and stereotypes
- Use of visual arguments
Segregation during 1960s
In 1960s, the civil rights movements opened a new chapter in the nation’s history. Blacks were embroiled in a vicious war that aimed to end segregation laws.
They fought “the war of a lifetime” in which they demanded suffrage, educational and housing rights. In addition, they wanted equal access to employment opportunities as well as the abolishment of state and federal laws that segregated them in public places. In this editorial cartoon, posted in the Washington Post in 1960, the Herblock explicitly demonstrates that segregation laws were prevalent in public places across the United States (n.d).
Essentially the Church is considered the house of God. Consequently, it ought to embrace every person regardless of his color, race, ethnic background, class, or religion. However, in this cartoon the Church symbolizes the extent to which segregation laws had affected blacks in Churches and other public places.
In the earlier 1960s and before the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965, African-Americans worshipped in separate Churches and attended separate schools from the whites. In this cartoon, the cartoonist has ironically implied that this was “The First Segregationist Church,” which represented “The Brotherhood of Man” (Herblock n.d).
At this point, it is also important to note that the cartoonist himself visually exaggerates the message when he selectively employs white and black backgrounds to label the signpost of the church. This categorically presents substantial grounds to support the fact that segregation laws had profound effect on the American society although they were unconstitutional.
He strategically places an old, fat white man, who obviously looks worried at the sight of African-Americans who have come to the Church. This view clearly symbolizes that segregation laws were intact in the minds of conservative Americans. The title of the cartoon, “Pray, Keep Moving Brother” also provides another form of ironical expression.
The white man standing at the entrance of the Church is telling the father of the little boy to keep on praying and it is indisputable that the little boy is listening to the conversation. In essence, the whites are not comfortable to share the same Church and other public places with blacks however; because of the government’s decision to outlaw discrimination in public places, whites reluctantly begun recognizing blacks.
This is shown when the white man in the cartoon uncomfortably calls blacks his “brothers” and mockingly tells them to pray and keeps moving in order to get official constitutional recognition. The name of the Church itself “first segregationist Church” is a slogan that is used to assert that indeed this was the first Church that allowed both blacks and whites to share the common platform.
It is also crucial to note that conservative whites were not ready to share similar platforms with blacks despite the fact that the government outlawed segregation laws. Consequently, the editorial cartoon oversimplifies the view that whites boycotted Churches and other public places because the Civil Right Act gave blacks the legal recognition to share public places with whites, this is shown when the white old man leaves the first segregationist church to pave way for blacks.
The cartoonist also emphasizes the fact that blacks were determined to share the American dream because they defied all odds to show whites that attaining civil rights was their constitutional right as revealed by the middle-aged father who brings his son to the first segregationist Church.
The cartoon is arguing against racial discrimination and the enforcement of segregation laws as evidently portrayed when the cartoonist dresses the white old man in black suit and dresses the blacks in white suit. In addition, the cartoon is asserting that blacks not only wanted an end to segregation laws they also fought alongside their children as depicted by the father who has brought his son to the Church.
In conclusion, this editorial cartoon symbolizes the extent to which segregation laws affected blacks in Churches and other public places during the 60s besides it also emphasizes how blacks confronted whites in public places to achieve basic civil liberties.
Herblock. “Segregation 1960.” The Washington Post14 Aug. 1960. Web. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/herblock/