Analysis of Rockwell’s images could serve as a powerful starting point for a research project on the Civil Rights movement that emphasizes visual information. For instance, another Rockwell image that deals with the Civil Rights movement is Murder in Mississippi. This image focuses on the murders of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, three civil rights workers who campaigned for equitable voter education in Mississippi. Suggested supplementary materials for a lesson plan based on this image include from the Eyes on the Prize (1986) videotapes series, Vol. 2 (Fighting Back) and Vol. 5 (Mississippi: Is This America?) and http://www.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/civilrights-55-65/missippi.html . Have students prepare a documentary presentation, giving attention to diversity of sources and media, accuracy of information, and analysis of the persuasiveness of materials. How will this event be “re”presented?
Consider a screening of Mississippi Burning, directed by Alan Parker (1988), which represents the same event portrayed in Rockwell’s painting. Although Parker’s film is suited only for older students (as it is rated R), seeing this film would allow your class to extend their inquiry of historical representation into another medium.
Students could research, investigate, and discuss other artists who represent events in the Civil Rights Movement, relating their comments to Rockwell’s technique. Examples of artists who have dealt with the Civil Rights Movement include Carrie Mae Weems, Roy De Caravara, Spike Lee, and Alfredo Jaar (whos work can be found in the High Museum of Art’s permanent collection). How do these representations inform or influence our understanding of the event? How do they contrast with Rockwell’s vision of the time period?