Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sara K- AP II 2:50-4:40 "Dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson"

John Marshall Harlan "Dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson" 1896

Plessy v. Ferguson mandated "separate but equal." Jim Crow laws  refer to segregation laws and practices that came out of Plessy v. Ferguson. However, none of the separate schools or accommodations were actually "separate but equal" as demonstrated by the picture. Because "separate but equal" wasn't really equal Harlan wrote a dissenting opinon. Harlan disagreed with Plessy v. Ferguson and warned that it would be used to put African Americans in an inferior position. Laws were often used to deny African Americans rights- it took constitutional amendments to change that. And it wasn't until  Brown v. Board of Ed. was passed years later, that the doctrine of "separate but equal" would be overturned.

In Harlan’s dissenting opinion he proposes that people's color should not preclude them or limit them in any way- the legal system is supposed to protect their rights. In the second paragraph, when he says “When a white man and a black man choose to occupy the same public conveyance on a public highway, it is their right to do so, and no government, proceeding alone on grounds of race, can prevent it without infringing the personal liberty on each”, Harlan describes the situation of the Louisiana railroad cars.  He is very blunt about it, and is saying that it is obvious that they segregated the car to avoid people mingling together, and that is therefore an infringement on personal rights and freedom.

Harlan also says “In my opinion the judgment this day rendered will in time; prove to be quite as pernicious as the decision made by the tribunal in the Dred Scott case.” Harlan is saying that Plessy v. Ferguson will turn out as inhumane and unjust as the Dred Scott decision (the court ruled that no African slaves or descendants of slaves could ever be citizens.)

Later in Harlan’s dissent, he says that “But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens.” This is significant because it suggests that the Plessy v. Ferguson court decision goes against the constitution- it’s a contradiction. The United States is democratic, and at the same time there are these terrible racist laws. This is the implication of Harlan’s words because if the Constitution is truly “color blind” than all should have the same equal rights and there should be no division s into the lower and upper classes. Halan is saying that no matter what others think, it is horrible to create a climate of racism and discrimination than to let people mingle together.

The last line is crucial because once again, Harlan confirms that there are racist laws in a democratic country. This is evidenced by when he says “Such a system is inconsistent with the guarantee given by the Constitution to each State of a republican form of government, and may be stricken down by Congressional action, or by the courts in the discharge of their solemn duty to maintain the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” In the last paragraph of the dissent, Harlan also describes that in the arguments used in court, some people cited earlier statements in the law and court decisions and such that date from the time of slavery to justify their point. Harlan is saying that doesn't make sense and that should not be allowed because this is now a different time and that this is today, a time where equality is needed.

Source: Foner, E. (2005). Voices of freedom. (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 54-59). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nohman Sakhi AS 5420 6:30-8:10

   Lewis W. Hine
Brief Biography:

Lewis W. Hine was a man who dedicated his life to using photography for good  reasons. He was born in 1874 and passed away in 1940. In addition to his short teaching career, Lewis W. Hines was associated with reform groups that helped improve housing and working conditions in American cities and factories. He also worked with government agencies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the National Research Project of the Works Progress Administration.


"Hine's aim was not so much to shock a passive audience into fear and indignation; instead, he wished to show working people in their environments in a more detached and objective manner. Social photography was for him an educational process; a picture was a piece of evidence, a record of social injustice, but also of individual human beings surviving with dignity in intolerable conditions."


Basically, this quote stood out to me because it summaries the type of person he was in relation to photography. He wanted to educate the public as oppose to instill fear in them. Lewis Hine wanted to fix these issues of poor working conditions and child labor injustices. He wanted the public to not be ignorant of these realities and have sympathy for them. His ultimate goal was to show the American people that it was time for this to change.

Lewis Hine's photograph


"...School children starting out 5 a.m. to peddle and going again after school and all day Saturday and Sunday..."


This quote explains what Lewis Hine was trying to reveal through his photography. The picture above shows a group of children who were overworked and oppressed. In my opinion, the cycle that these children went through on a daily basis was exhausting and improper.


"In fact, it is often more effective than the reality would have been, because, in the picture, the non-essential and conflicting interests have been eliminated. The picture is the language of all nationalities and all ages."


You do not have to literate or speak the language of English to understand what a picture shows.  The picture below is one of Hine's photographs that show a child after working.

                                                           Last Quote I'd like to End on

"The average person believes implicitly that the photograph cannot falsify. Of course, you and I know that this unbounded faith in the integrity of the photograph is often rudely shaken, for, while photographs may not lie, liars may photograph." — Lewis Hine


Lewis Hine was trying to say that although a photograph doesn't lie, someone can take a picture and make up a story behind it. (yellow photography)

More of Lewis Hine's Work


The Ruling Power reading packet, Social Photography. Pages 109-113.