Citation:“Visibility and Rhetoric: Epiphanies and Transformations in the ‘Life’ Photographs of the Selma Marches of 1965.” Gallagher, Victoria J., and Kenneth S. Zagacki. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 2, 2007, pp. 113–135.

Kathleen Hall Jameson argued in her book, Eloquence in our Electronic Age that the Civil Rights movement “was catalyzed not by eloquent words but by eloquent pictures” (56).”

The Anti-Trump protests that have erupted throughout the country, just days after the election results and ongoing, are for many, what can only be described as a response to a new, unique strand of PTSD I’m branding PEAD for Post-Election Anxiety Disorder.

I return to our painful past as a catalyst for healing in the present- to the civic unrest of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, “Visibility and Rhetoric: Epiphanies and Transformations in the ‘Life’ Photographs of the Selma Marches of 1965.” I selected this article for our final discussion and the LIFE photos themselves (below) as points of reference to understand and contextualize the escalating PEAD in our cities across the nation, as well as inspire a call to social activism.

The photographs are symbolic and active visuals, emotionally loaded, and connotative of the savage tone of historic events which, according to our authors Gallagher and Zagacki,

“(1) evoke common humanity by capturing moments of embodiment and enactment that challenged the established images of blacks in the minds of whites and held up for scrutiny assumptions and power relationships that had long been taken for granted;

(2) evoke common humanity by creating recognition of others through particularity; and

(3) challenge taken-for-granted ideas of democracy, remind viewers that a large gap existed between abstract political concepts like democracy and what was actually occurring in American streets.”

Below is a photo gallery of the photos discussed in the article. Take a glance at the photos.

Photo Gallery of Life Photos: 


Photos 1 & 2, Charles Moore photographer


Photos 3 (left), Flip Schulke photographer, Photo 4 (right), Charles Moore photographer


Photo 5, Flip Schulke photographer


Photos 6 & 7, Flip Schulke photographer


Photo 8, Charles Moore photographer

  • What feelings and emotions surfaced as you looked at the Life photos as you consider the article? Which was the most powerful to you and why?
  • What large gaps of abstract political concepts like ‘democracy’ and the realities it often fails to represent can we identify in the present? Are they analogous to, or continuous of, the past? For example, how would you define democracy in urban areas versus democracy in rural areas?
  • Do you agree with Susan Sontag that will people remember “only the photographs” and not the events leading up to them?
  • What epiphanies or transformations do you foresee for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party?  Will there be a revisionist history with regards to Hillary Clinton and her bid for the presidency? Will history be kind or cruel?
  • A march in Washington is planned on Saturday January 21st, 2017.  Check it out: The Women’s March on Washington FB page



Featured Image via Google Images