I have attached my proposal in a Word file to preserve original spacing and footnotes.
I have attached my proposal in a Word file to preserve original spacing and footnotes.
During John F. Kennedy’s presidency, many critiques were raised about his policies and leadership in regards to the Civil Rights Movement. Many did not believe that his administration took a radical enough approach in eradicating segregation and violence against Blacks in the South. Though legal segregation in schools was overturned in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education, many Southern schools ignored this law and continued their practice of having separate educational facilities. Though his administration eventually brought forth new legislation that would turn into The Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing segregation of public schools and facilities such as restaurants and buses, Kennedy remained hesitant to intervene throughout the course of Blacks’ struggle for equal rights in the South. Though Brown v. Board of Education outlawed segregated public schools in 1954, it took nearly ten years for legislation to arrive that would enforce this law definitively. I intend to explore the complex interplay between national and Southern political climates at the time of John F. Kennedy’s administration to search for answers as to why the Kennedy administration was slow in delivering the freedoms demanded by Civil Rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.
According to Echols, Janis Joplin’s wild ride to fame was drastically different, for many different reasons, than any others of her time. Major contributors to her unique experience of finding fame was an alienating childhood and adolescence (both at the hands of her own insecurities, and from lack of acceptance from parents and peers), and her inability to assimilate to the social and cultural “norms” of her time. Though she didn’t experience fame for long, only becoming well-known after the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and dying in October 1970, she made a big impact on many people. These impressions were both negative and positive, for her style of dress, outspoken personality, and refusal to please anyone but herself. Joplin was also a pioneer of the Beatnik counterculture movement, and arguably one of its most controversial members.
It is very easy to dislike Janis Joplin as a person—she fired her mouth off at everyone around her for the most minor annoyances, and reveled in self-martyrdom. However, throughout reading this book, one of the main things that made Janis Joplin an admirable and endearing personality was that she never really left her roots. Though her roots appear to have been a conventional life in Port Arthur, Texas, Echols establishes early on that Janis had her own idea of what roots were. It seems apparent that she never betrayed her most initial inclinations of standing out in a crowd. As illustrated by a story about Janis as a young child, sleepwalking clear out of Port Arthur and claiming that she was going home, it seems as though she may her never made it there. Despite her desperate need for peer- and self-approval, Janis’ life was extremely isolated. But there were certain things that never changed. From the first time that Janis headed west to San Francisco, she developed an affinity for making a scene, standing out, speaking out, and showing out. Even when she became famous and wealthy, she filled her house with used furniture and bought a used Porsche. Janis, at the very least, never became what she said she’d never become.
In Coal Miner’s Daughter, the life of country music superstar Loretta Lynn is chronicled, primarily notable for her “rags-to-riches” transformation and her unusually early age of marriage to a much older man. The film struggles to reconcile several issues of power and independent agency, most pointedly portrayed in the somewhat dysfunctional marriage of Doolittle and Loretta Lynn. From an impoverished upbringing in rural Kentucky as the daughter of a coal miner, to a very young wife and mother, to finding uncommon success as a female country music artist, Loretta Lynn must struggle for her own autonomy in the context of an oppressive and abusive relationship.
The film uses the image of cowboy hats as a means to signify the ownership of power and the transference of power between various characters. The first time that Loretta Lynn is seen wearing her white cowboy hat is when Doolittle takes her picture in the living room of their home. He places the hat on her head; thus signifying that he has the power over her: he has primarily been in charge of her music career so far, facilitating gigs and getting her name out to the locals. Later, when Loretta Lynn first appears on the Grand Ole Opry, he secures the cowboy hat on her head. Although she has chosen to put it on, he makes sure that it will remain as a symbol of his power over her. However, a shift occurs thereafter in the image of the cowboy hat. After the moment at the Grand Ole Opry, Loretta Lynn uses the cowboy hat to her own advantage to signify a shift in power over Doolittle: she defies his control of her destiny. After performing at the Opry, Loretta Lynn tosses her cowboy hat to Doolittle at a diner with Patsy Cline, and in the next breath reminds him that he is: “just a tax deduction.” When she finds Doolittle in the car with another woman, she removes his cowboy hat from the head of the woman he was fooling around with, representing her regaining control of her husband and not allowing him to stray. Finally, after getting in a fight with Doolittle in a parking lot, she throws his cowboy hat out of the window as her car speeds off. Although Loretta Lynn had to fight against her husband to have power over her own life, she did so through the image of the cowboy hat, and came out on top of the power hierarchy in the end.
In July 2008, I participated in a youth theater project at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta called The Collision Project. Twenty high school students from the metro Atlanta area “collided” for three weeks and discussed topics of race and rebellion, writing on topics related to the “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. A professional playwright then wrote a play entitled “Children of the Dream” using our writing. Looking back on them now, these writing samples sound a little cheesy, but I decided to post them anyway. We went to an exhibition of Civil Rights Photos at the High Museum and each wrote two poems based on two different photos we saw at the exhibit.
“Cleaning The Pool-St. Augustine, Florida”
Maybe enough chemicals will dilute this rebellion
And with the correct combination of bleach and chlorine
Their hair will be blonder
Their eyes will be bluer
Their skin will be paler.
Maybe enough chemicals will induce obedience and calm their frustrations
They will be placated and learn to accept a fate of unequal destiny.
Maybe enough chemicals will erode an entire cultural history.
And a struggle for life that has spanned several decades
will be erased with bromine and algaecides, seeping into and poisoning their minds.
Maybe when we’re all the same
When we all look, talk and act the same
The pathway will be paved for peace among mankind.
“Mr. & Mrs. Chris McNair”
A picture is not real, it is only a memory.
Sometimes, memories are not good enough.
We cling to it, for it is all we have left our our daughter.
Our daughter, who died at the hands of heartless murderers
In the name of their ignorance and hate.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then our first word is “why?”
Why did she have to die before her life had even begun?
Why has her existence been reduced to an 8” x 10” piece of paper?
Why wasn’t she given the chance to fix the mess created by her parents’ generation?
There are no answers because there is no reason
Only an excuse for the shattered pieces
We are left with to make whole.
And that excuse is fear shrouded with violence
That exploded on Sunday with vengeance and fury
In a place our family called home.
I think that I’d like to use Voices of Protest as my “jumping off point” for my research. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, and I don’t know if this issue is addressed later, but I’m particularly interested in how the use of rhetoric influenced the extreme success and popularity of both Father Coughlin and Huey Long. Even when they were just talking, sometimes making promises they couldn’t keep, people were hooked to them and hung on every word. How were they so successful? That’s what I’m interested in researching.
Reading Kantrowitz’ account of Ben Tillman, for me, gave new meaning, perspective and definition to the idea of “racist demagogue.” Among the many appalling Tillman-ite practices and policies, one of the most unique and disturbing things to me was the way that Tillman was able to disguise his racist demagoguery in eloquent speeches that made himself and his politics appeal to the masses, thus keeping him in power for so long. This idea seems to be captured best on page 168, where Katrowitz says: “The paper questioned his ability to stop the mob and suggested that he had been present, ‘with true Edgefield instinct, [Tillman] would probably have been hanging on the edge of the mob,’ neither a law-abiding man nor a bold lyncher.” By appearing to the public to be neither, he could appeal to people with a wide array of opinions about political and social construction. While many of his acts as South Carolina’s governor and as a Red-shirt are seen as deplorable, I think that Kantrowitz’ argument about Ben Tillman succeeds most and is most effective in his painting of Tillman as a spineless man, who would not commit firmly to any position, but skated around the circumference of public opinion to champion himself as the “every man’s man.”
I think that the idea of Tillman as someone with no strong convictions play into the primary theme that we talked about in class: Tillman’s campaign to simultaneously appeal to and alienate even his fellow white men. In this way, the question was raised in my mind whether Tillman had loyalties to anyone but the rich white men and proponents of the type of agriculture he so tried to protect from destruction. Seeing Tillman as a racist and a demagogue are not necessarily unique to him; people of this kind have cropped up through all areas of history. What ultimately made Tillman a uniquely deplorable man was the fact that he wasn’t truly invested in or dedicated to any cause.