Looking at these image from the original March on Washington in ‘63, as well as those just below from ‘83, what is simultaneously natural and striking is how the people have access to their national grounds.
Looking at the photos from this weekend’s 2013 anniversary in contrast, the visual and physical shift in the civic and expressive relationship to democratic space is shocking to me.
If the middle photo of this last grouping is a powerful representation of how much public assembly and public expression has been bounded, the last photo is even more concerning. Yes, the citizens, their signs advocating for greater rights and expanded freedoms, are penned in. But I’m also thinking about the “I am a man” poster. As a key civil rights phrase originating from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and an enduring affirmation, the word “still” in this context is to strengthen the original phrase and intent, highlighting the continuity of the ideal. In an ironic twist, however — and one that contradicts decades of struggle for advancement — the phrase can be seen to relate to the bounded condition. As in: I am still a man, although here on this Mall in 2013, I am this confined.
If this doesn’t terrify you, then you just don’t get it AT ALL.