Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917-2000)
screenprint, . Anne Elizabeth Wilson Memorial Fund 1994.17
When Lawrence was commissioned to execute a print to celebrate the United States' bicentennial in 1976, he illustrated the March 7, 1965, march by unarmed protesters objecting to the denial of African Americans' right to vote. The march began in Selma, Alabama, but before the 600 protestors could reach the state capital in Montgomery, law enforcement officials attacked them with clubs and tear gas as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge; Lawrence symbolized the malicious and brutal attack by including the vicious dog at the left edge of the scene. Two days later, with court protection, Martin Luther King Jr. led now 25,000 marchers to Montgomery. Outraged by the barbarity of the civil rights struggle, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act later that year.