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Fighting Pictures: The Scottsboro Linoleum Cut Album; A Study of Politicized Race Imagery in American Art of the 1930s

Sallie Mize


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Thesis Description


Title

Fighting Pictures: The Scottsboro Linoleum Cut Album; A Study of Politicized Race Imagery in American Art of the 1930s

Author

Sallie Mize

Advisor

Joyce Polistena

Date

2013

Abstract

The trials of the Scottsboro Boys, held in Alabama between 1931 and 1937, were among the most notorious and highly publicized events in the early struggle for civil rights. Falsely accused, convicted, and sentenced to death for the rape of two white women, nine black youths brought international attention to the horrors of “lynch justice” in the Jim Crow era of the American South. Artists on the left responded to this controversy by adapting the Scottsboro Boys into a growing cultural movement to address working class and minority concerns. As subjects of a widespread visual campaign to “free the Scottsboro Boys,” the nine young men came to personify injustice across social, political, and geographic lines.

This thesis seeks to prove that political themes imbued in the black body at this time, prompted by the cultural response to the Scottsboro case, transformed the nature of American race imagery. These styles, symbols and subjects continue to influence our understanding of racial politics today. Designed to promote activism through persuasive and emotional imagery, the Scottsboro Linoleum Cut Album is a dynamic example of politicized representation. Its place within the Social Realist movement may be ascertained by comparison with other examples of propaganda and fine art addressing African American conditions of the 1930s.

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Citation

Sallie Mize, “Fighting Pictures: The Scottsboro Linoleum Cut Album; A Study of Politicized Race Imagery in American Art of the 1930s,” History of Art & Design Theses, accessed September 21, 2017, http://hadthesis.pratt.edu/items/show/80.