Summary Of The Soiling Of Old Glory

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The process of compiling history is often a difficult one, and filled with many obstacles that only a trained and knowledgeable historian is able to maneuver around to correctly present the facts of the past. In order to so, historians must be able to sift through massive amounts of details to put forth the main and most important ideas while filling gaps with details instead of presenting the facts as a whole and unorganized. In the book “The Soiling of Old Glory,” author Louis Masur chose one of the most controversial photographs in American history to present the building of racial and economic tensions not only in Boston, but many major cities in the country at that time. Due to the grimness of this particular photo, the hurdled path Masur…show more content…
When the picture was published, it led to outrage within both the white and black communities nationally, as many saw it as a disgraceful and extremely inappropriate use of the American flag. Following the release of the photo, previous conceptions of the flag that included freedom and equality were completely shattered as the nation now saw it as a symbol of Boston’s racism and unwillingness to come together as a city for the betterment of civil rights. This incident was particularly appaling given its setting; Boston was a founding city in America’s history, and was seen as the “cradle of liberty”, where all people were able to civilize equally. With an already racist history, Boston sunk further into a racial crisis that plagued its progress a city, and was the proof that racial tensions still existed not only in the South, but Northern cities as well, something many…show more content…
Photographs help historians immensely, and provide undeniable first hand evidence of an event that might have otherwise been marred by the notoriously faulty memory of eye witnesses. Despite their helpfulness, photographs also only depict a fraction of a second of an event, and usually can be taken out of context and given a complete new meaning unless the reader knows how to interpret it. For example, “Soiling of Old Glory” beholds many lies to the audience’s eye. For one, Joseph Rakes is actually swinging the flag back and forth trying to “smack” Landsmark with it, a much less violent act than thrusting it at him, which it seems as if he is doing. Another misconception in the picture is the white man holding Landsmark. To an uninformed viewer, this man is clearly holding Landsmark upright while Rakes assaults him with the flag. In reality, the man is a Jim Kelley, a white protester who opposed any violence and was actually helping Landsmark up to his feet after witnessing his assault at the hands of other white protestors. Without utilizing the full knowledgeable resources around, historians would have no way of finding these details about the photo, and would give off a completely wrong piece of

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