Rosa Parks and the Man Behind Her, Mr Chriss

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Imagine one day you and your family decide to go to a restaurant, as you enter the restaurant you get some weird looks but you pay it no mind, moments after you and your family sit down and wait for the waitress/waiter to bring the menu, a couple of minutes pass and you notice someone walking towards where you are sitting expecting he/she to be the waiter/waitress it is actually the owner of the restaurant puzzled you ask him what he needs and he/she simply replies we “We don’t serve your kind here”

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This is what many people experience during the 18th and 19th Century due to the “Jim Crow Laws” that were put in place in the year 1880 this laws enforced segregation in most public places, It was most common in the south where places or things would be divided into white and colored this “places and things” include restaurants, public restrooms, swimming pools, water fountains, etc.

After a couple of years later people had enough and created movements such as the “Sit in Movement” and the “Freedom Riders” protesting about the many unjustness people of color were going through for so long not only that but also having many of their rights violated and deprived of , this movements were part of something bigger called the Civil Rights Movement which began in the late 1940s which fought for the fair treatment of colored people.

There were many people who contributed in these movements however I will focus in someone who is recognized immediately by a lot of people, her name is “Rosa Lousie Mccaulley Parks” who played a big part in the Civil Rights Movement being an active protester against segregation nowadays however she is mostly known for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in the city of Montgomery, Alabama.

There were many photos of her taken such as her mugshot or her being fingerprinted but none stood out as much as the one taken in December. 21, 1956 by Mr. Brinkley the author of Rosa Parks Biography, which showed in black and white, Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus right after the supreme court decided to forbid segregation on the city’s bus system with a white individual named Nicholas C. Chriss sitting behind her.

Without any prior knowledge on the photo it would just seem like a normal photo taken by some random photographer that included Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus with an intimidating white man behind her, however this isn't the case at all in fact one would be shocked to find out that this image was actually staged by Mr. Brinkley, the guy sitting behind Rosa Parks isn't some angry white man who was against the new laws but instead was a reporter named Nicholas C. Chriss who worked for the United Press, that was simply asked by Mr. Brinkley to pose for a picture, sadly enough due to information being mixed and people being misinformed most just believed him to be just that an angry white guy.

The image conveys a message depending on how much you know about it with context it may seem as Rosa Parks efforts on making a change have finally paid off allowing anyone no matter the color of their skin to seat wherever they want without fear of percussion, with little to no context the image just seems as any other with a woman sitting in a bus with a man having an intimidating look behind her.

We can use visual analysis to pick apart things on the photo and analyze its many parts this includes the balance, proportion, emphasis, contrast, and movement of the photo.

For starters let's examine Balance, in the image we are given an example of asymmetrical balance in one side we have Mr. Chriss while on the other side we have Rosa Parks both are sitting down and facing different directions the reason why its balanced its due to the colors on one side we have Mr. Chriss wearing a black suit not only that because he's looking away from the window he's face is a lot darker while in the other side we have Rosa Parks wearing a black hat however she's looking towards the window making her face look a lot lighter creating the sense of tonal balance.

Then we have proportion, in the image the only thing out of proportion are the seats compared to Rosa Parks and Mr. Chriss they are somewhat smaller in size thus making Rosa Parks and Mr. Chriss seem more important due to the fact that they are larger, not only that you might also notice that the background is sort of blurred out with the windows lacking any reflection making the foreground a lot larger than the background there's a reason for this and its connected with our next visual design which is emphasis.

The image wants you to focus on Rosa Parks and Mr. Chriss thus emphasizing them more, it is obvious at first sight as they take most of the space in the image because of this one's attention is immediately drawn to them allowing us to recognize them and make assumptions on what's going on as well as trying to find the message it is trying to convey.

There is an element which is not emphasized in the image, which is the seats that should be as they add more information to the image that allows us to find the message it is trying to convey easier.

The image creates contrast by comparing two adjacent elements those being Rosa Parks and Mr. Chriss, lets imagine there is an imaginary line dividing Rosa Parks and Mr. Chriss by doing so we see that one side is a lot darker than the other, this is due to the way they are positioned, Mr. Chriss is positioned in a way where he is looking away from the bus windows making, he's faces look a lot darker not only that there is also the combination of clothes he's wearing a black vest, black tie, black socks and black shoes this as a whole makes the left side of the image a lot darker compared to the right side where the image is a lot lighter due to Rosa Parks looking towards the window making her face look a lot lighter as well as having a set of clothes that are lighter one exception being her hat.

There isn't a lot of movement which shows us something being in motion in the image however this does not mean there isn't a type of movement in fact there is one called compositional movement which is the way the viewers eye moves throughout the photo in this case most people would start by looking at Rosa Parks herself to then Mr. Chriss face to the clothes they are wearing then finally to the background in this case the back of the bus as well as the windows and as stated when talking about proportions since the foreground is bigger than the background making the viewer more interested in it.

In conclusion we can use visual analysis which includes balance, proportion, emphasis, contrast, and movement to pick apart things on the photo to analyze its many parts for example how the images colors are balanced, things proportionally bigger or smaller in order to put more emphasis on them which in effect helps the viewer go through part by part allowing them to get the message it is trying to convey.

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