I initially wanted to write this blog post commending and analyzing the intensely vivid imagery apparent in Anne Moody’s memoir, Coming of Age in Mississippi. So, I Googled “artwork during the Civil Rights Movement” and began researching the many other forms of art that were created to commemorate the severe hardships faced by black people.
As I have never researched artwork during the Civil Rights Movement, this was an exciting and perfect time to begin. As I originally hypothesized, artwork created during the CRM was a means by which artists could convey their own interpretation of the tragic events that occurred at the time. Whether through sculpture, painting, clay, or several other forms, every piece of art had its own story and told its own tragedy or truth. Similarly, most works of art were radical representations aimed to provoke conversation, thought, and action amongst the art’s viewers.
Tying this back to Moody’s memoir, the original inspiration for this blog post came when I was reading about her experiences sitting in at Woolworth’s. The descriptions of blood running from mouths, kicking against heads with hard-soled shoes, being dragged on the floor by the hair, and so much more made me cringe (pg. 288-289, ch. 22). Moody’s memoir, too, is only writing, not to say that I discredit the power of this writing at all. However, the disturbing impression that visual artwork can have on someone, especially an outsider, is astounding. Even more astounding is the power that visual art can possess when written words are already incredibly moving. In summery of the very brief points I have made here, the graphic artwork of the Civil Rights Movement sparked debate and sadness within all viewers, which is something that words can only begin to accomplish.
- The Power of Imagery in Advancing Civil Rights
- Artists of the Civil Rights Movement: A Retrospective