The March from Selma to Montgomery: A Map For Teaching Tolerance

Every once in a while I get assigned to projects that introduce me to new knowledge. I start those kinds of projects out with not much information on them. By the time I'm done, it's a different story. I always wrap up feeling like my comfort zone has been stretched and that my mind has grown a little broader; I like it when that sort of growth is a part of the deal. This illustrated map piece I did for Teaching Tolerance is one of those kinds of projects.

Here's the full illustrated map of Alabama with locations significant to the voting rights struggle. The map is 2 x 3 foot large. It is a fold-up map that's a part of an educational film kit called Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot.

 

Close ups of the map | Click on image to enlarge

When I started out with this project, I would have told you that I had heard of 'Bloody Sunday', but I wouldn't have been able to explain to you (or to myself) what the significance behind the naming was. Getting into this project and coming out of it with an illustration that really said what's intended of it to say meant that I had some learning to do. Since I generally process information better through imagery and visual stimuli, I learned the history of what had happened 50 years ago, in March, through "reading" photos of the historic event that took place. I looked for images of the people involved and read their expressions, their body languages, and the feel of the time they lived in, and then I looked for videos and literature to back up my findings.

 

INITIAL SKETCH OF THE MAP

By the time I was done researching, I was left amazed at the struggles these people had to go through just to be acknowledged as fellow human beings. I was moved. I realized that I had a bigger responsibility with illustrating this map than I had initially thought I did. I was chosen to play a role in conveying a significantly important message to so many people of different age groups and that just fueled me to put my all into illustrating this map: The March From Selma To Montgomery.

 

DETAILS | Click On Image to enlarge

The four girls above died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. This event marked a turning point in the United States 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The male is Jimmie Lee Jackson. He was an activist who died of a gun-shot wound.

After taking in all the information, I learned that Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the leaders for that movement, but he was only a part of a much bigger movement that was about to take place in the country. I was introduced to people who had to lay their own lives on the line to make a point, and make sure that that change would take place, what's amazing was that they did! And the Civil Rights Movement was recorded in the history of humanity. I started to see all the efforts made by all these people, and saw the determination on their faces; it started to become a story that I was invested in. I saw the humanness of it all, the struggle and the pain that so many people went through in order to stand up, to be counted, to be given equal voting rights, and to not be segregated in societies just because their skin tones were a few shades darker. And so people marched, in unity, to be heard. 

 

Initial Sketches | Click on image to enlarge

Often in life, when we choose to go against the tide, we lose things and maybe even lives. So many lives were lost before a change took place; 4 young and bright little girls were killed during a bombing that was aimed at the church, a young man named Jimmie Jackson lost his life much the same way MLK Jr. did. This peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery had to be done 3 different times before the protestors managed to finally make their way past the authorities and get their message across. The cost of freedom and equality was the loss of so many lives. Yes we’ve moved forward as a nation and we’re at a better place today but we should always remember those that thrived to get us here.

 

EVENTS RELATED PATTERNS FOR THE MAP'S BACKGROUND

I am proud to have been a part of this great project that Teaching Tolerance put together, Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot. I'm even prouder to know that my artwork will hang in thousands of classrooms all across America, and that many students that are visual learners like myself, might be able to learn even more about their history and how so many people stepped up for what was right. In my opinion America’s strength lies in its diversity and its ability to make sure that freedom is for all of its people, regardless of race, gender, and age.

 

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