Illustrating Freedom:
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery
Story as a Rhetorical Parallel to U.S.
Civil Rights Movement C...
Martin Luther King and the
Montgomery Story comic is a
visual rhetorical argument
advocating for the use of
nonviolent res...
Martin Luther
King and the
Montgomery Story
Comic book format
Recounts the story of the
Montgomery bus boycotts in
1955-19...
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Founded in 1911, close to the beginning of World War I
Interfaith organization that promotes ...
Historical context
FOR chose to create a comic book
Format was popular during that time period
Came out shortly after the ...
Martin Luther King worked
with the FOR in writing the
script for the comic
The comic sold more than
250,000 copies
Influen...
Inspired activists
internationally
Distributed in South Africa
during Apartheid
Translated into Spanish,
Arabic, and Farsi...
Structure
Divided into three sections
First section tells “The Montgomery Story” and introduces Martin
Luther King with br...
The Comic as a Movement Tool
“Instant historicizing”
Told the story of a recent victory
Allowed current/younger generation...
Identification
Black church culture transformed into movement
culture
In both white and black communities, church
involvem...
Theoretical framework
Stephen Toulmin’s model of argumentation (first triad)
Breaks the rhetorical argument into three par...
The Comic’s Claim
The comic will encourage more instances of nonviolent
protest and resistance and increase participation ...
Evidence Supporting the
Comic’s Claim
Repeated visual references
to Christian love and
God, as well as to the
black church...
The Comic’s Warrant
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story is a
legitimate piece of Civil Rights movement culture, an...
Future Research
Civil Rights-era comics produced by the NAACP
Illustrating Freedom: 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' as a Rhetorical Parallel to Civil Rights Movement Culture
Illustrating Freedom: 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' as a Rhetorical Parallel to Civil Rights Movement Culture
Illustrating Freedom: 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' as a Rhetorical Parallel to Civil Rights Movement Culture
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Illustrating Freedom: 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' as a Rhetorical Parallel to Civil Rights Movement Culture

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Published as a comic book in 1958, 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' went on to inspire hundreds of thousands to use active nonviolence in the fight against injustice, and inequality.

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Illustrating Freedom: 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' as a Rhetorical Parallel to Civil Rights Movement Culture

  1. 1. Illustrating Freedom: Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story as a Rhetorical Parallel to U.S. Civil Rights Movement Culture Ryan Schill Kennesaw State University rschill@kennesaw.edu twitter: @rpschill
  2. 2. Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story comic is a visual rhetorical argument advocating for the use of nonviolent resistance to end segregation, inequality, and Jim Crow laws in the United States. The comic became a tool that gained power and credibility by linking itself to established Civil Rights movement culture through its use of black Christian church imagery and themes.
  3. 3. Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story Comic book format Recounts the story of the Montgomery bus boycotts in 1955-1956 Published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1958
  4. 4. Fellowship of Reconciliation Founded in 1911, close to the beginning of World War I Interfaith organization that promotes active nonviolence Wanted to find a way to build on the successes of the Montgomery bus boycotts and show the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance
  5. 5. Historical context FOR chose to create a comic book Format was popular during that time period Came out shortly after the development of the Comics Code Authority, the comics industry’s response to public pressure to reduce the amount of violent and sexual content in comics Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story comic was independently published, and did not bear the CCA seal Not bearing the seal meant that most mainstream retail outlets would not carry the comic FOR believed that comics were an ideal medium for reaching “semi-literate audiences”
  6. 6. Martin Luther King worked with the FOR in writing the script for the comic The comic sold more than 250,000 copies Influenced future civil rights leaders to take action John Lewis was so inspired by the comic, he produced a memoir in graphic novel format called March The Greensboro Four staged their 1960 Woolworth’s sit-in after reading the comic
  7. 7. Inspired activists internationally Distributed in South Africa during Apartheid Translated into Spanish, Arabic, and Farsi In 2006, smuggled into Egypt Read by young Egyptians protestors during the Arab Spring revolution
  8. 8. Structure Divided into three sections First section tells “The Montgomery Story” and introduces Martin Luther King with brief, one-page bio In second section, MLK describes how Ghandi helped India win independence from Britain by using nonviolent tactics Final section explains the principles behind nonviolence and gives step-by-step instructions on its use for affecting social change
  9. 9. The Comic as a Movement Tool “Instant historicizing” Told the story of a recent victory Allowed current/younger generation to “claim its specific place in the long tradition of black struggle.” — T.V. Reed, The Art of Protest (2005, pg. 15) Organizing/Mobilizing Easy to pass around Appealed to college students, thus engaging the black college network Education Taught basic elements of nonviolent action Showed how nonviolent tactics had worked in the recent past
  10. 10. Identification Black church culture transformed into movement culture In both white and black communities, church involvement “sanctified the movement [and] made it more legitimate and less frightening in the eyes of many people.” Church provided essential infrastructure: Meeting places Money-raising network Recruitment (Reed, 11-12)
  11. 11. Theoretical framework Stephen Toulmin’s model of argumentation (first triad) Breaks the rhetorical argument into three parts or functions: Claim: the proposition or thesis statement Grounds (data): the evidence that supports that claim Warrants: the logical link connecting the claim and the grounds
  12. 12. The Comic’s Claim The comic will encourage more instances of nonviolent protest and resistance and increase participation in the Civil Rights movement
  13. 13. Evidence Supporting the Comic’s Claim Repeated visual references to Christian love and God, as well as to the black church’s integration with movement culture
  14. 14. The Comic’s Warrant Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story is a legitimate piece of Civil Rights movement culture, and thus a legitimate tool for the movement
  15. 15. Future Research Civil Rights-era comics produced by the NAACP

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