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Some Truths Are Not Self Evident

59 x 23 inches mixed charcoal on paper

In “Some Truths Are Not Self Evident,” Washington depicts the conflict-ridden nature of social change in the segregated south.  During this era, thousands of civil rights protesters were arrested – and many were assaulted with high-pressure fire hoses, shocked with electric cattle prods, and beaten by police as well as angry segregationists. The protesters suffered these consequences simply for demanding equality for all human beings. Despite the violence, the activists persevered and many of the demonstrations escalated.

Washington employs three central images in “Some Truths Are Not Self Evident,” which are meant to be interpreted together as a singular whole.  On both of the side panels, Washington depicts protesters suffering the consequences of their bravery.  Both the men depicted on the left, and the woman depicted on the right, are seen falling victim to the brutality of local authorities who have reduced themselves to the use of abject violence.  The image of a gazing eye fills the center of the painting, symbolizing the need for focus in times of tribulation -- the need for each member of the Freedom Movement to keep their “eyes on the prize” of achieving racial equality for all Americans.


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