The Heart of the Matter: Poems Inspired by Civil Rights Movement Photographs

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Lortie, StarShield
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Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis explores and expands the consensus narrative of the American Civil Rights Movement through a collection of original poems inspired by civil rights photographs. My purpose was to gain a better understanding of the civil rights movement, the literature written about and because of the movement, and in particular, how images and text interact, allowing for a deeper engagement on the part of the individual reader. The poems are introduced by a creative process narrative that frames the poetry as a response to the call, initiated by Julie Armstrong in her introduction to The Cambridge Companion to American Civil Rights Literature (2015), to transform silence into action. The creative process narrative also documents my own growth in understanding that process of transformation in terms of the perpetual choice between freedom and fear. Taken together, the narrative essay, photographs, poems, and bibliography participate in what Armstrong calls the “new civil rights studies.”
Civil rights, Civil rights literature, Photographs, Poetry