Rhetorical Analysis: As Martin Luther King Sees It

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Sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social protest campaign that aimed for the desegregation of the bus systems in Montgomery, Alabama. The organization revolved around the emerging civil rights leader and pastor Martin Luther King Jr. Three years later, King’s method of non-violent protests would inspire four students to begin the Greensboro Sit-Ins in North Carolina, which is regarded as one of the most significant demonstrations at the time. Many of the discriminatory practices during this time period stem from whiteness, a belief about entitlement and ownership for whites based solely on their skin color. The media utilizes rhetorical devices, such as analogy, derogatory diction,…show more content…
The 1956 article, “As Martin Luther King Sees it,” is written by Robert Baker of the Washington Post Times-Herald, a publication known for their strongly conservative editorial stance. Baker’s address of the Montgomery Bus Boycott presents viewers with a photo of King leaning on the side of a car, while being handcuffed from behind by two white police officers. The image has been cropped to focus on King, who is pronounced because the officers are mainly cropped out of the image. King’s face remains squarely in the photo, forcing the reader’s eyes to focus on King’s face. King is illustrated in the center of the photo to exaggerate King’s apprehension. Many conservatives did not support the boycott and saw King as the cancer of the movement , and, therefore, they would approve of his arrest. King was known amongst conservatives and liberals as law-abiding citizen who preached peaceful protests. Yet a person who is arrested is typically associated with crime, and the photograph calls to question the validity of King's lawful nature. The image works to criminalize King, and to depict him as culpable and at fault. King himself embodied the civil rights movement, and his arrest implies that the black protestors are criminals, which works to negatively portray black activists during the Bus Boycott. Visual rhetoric illustrates that if the police symbolize the law and civil order, King embodies the
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