I was incredibly excited when two weeks ago we reached our unit on Civil Rights. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s-1960s has always been one of my favorite sections in US history; however, I was never consciously aware of what exactly ignited my passion. I understood the ideals of the movement and its landmark place in history as result of hundreds of years of tensions in the struggle for equality. I could not, however, fathom why similar monumental events as the Civil War did not kindle the same reaction.
Over the past few years I have accumulated a collection of books and documentaries surrounding this era, enthralled by every demonstration, legislative, and Supreme Court ruling involving the movement. I especially admired the leaders for their unwavering valor and fervor, characteristics that Robert Kennedy would describe as “moral courage.”
As I perused through the pages our Civil Rights chapter, it finally dawned on me what exactly intrigued me about this period. As our book attempted to explain the effectiveness of the movement it mentioned the exaggerated demonstrations that spread to all corners of the nation through televisions. This, of course, had been mentioned in my history class, but it wasn’t until I turned the page to the iconic picture of the African American attacked by a police dog that I realized that all along it was the media coverage that had grabbed my interest. I, like many Americans of the 50’s and 60’s could not help but to be appalled by the scenes of the police pressure hosing a crowd or touched by the footage of the March on Washington. The picture of the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 of the African American athletes still gives me chills.
In many ways we take media coverage for granted these days. Any American can turn on his or her television set and chose from tens of different news stations, even ones that cater to his or her political interests. In fact, media has become so omnipresent that it has turned into a nuisance in some cases. Just as easy as it is to find coverage of current events, stories of Lindsey Lohan’s arrest or Kim Kardashian’s divorce are even closer at hand. With certain news stations preaching biased accounts and the growing popularity of E-news and reality TV shows, I adapted a negative connotation for “the media.” I began to undervalue the effects television coverage can have in advancing a cause and believed all positive effects were out shadowed by lack of true news. Overall, I glad I have gained an appreciation for the media through the analysis of this unit. Through the six weeks in this course I have learned that new technology is not only a tool for learning but also an implement for revolutions.