Eugene Patterson- Civil Rights

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Jennifer M. Callahan Instructor Snyder English 1003-05 31 May 2009 On September 16, 1963 The Atlanta Constitution published an editorial piece written by Eugene Patterson. This was just one of the 3,200 columns Patterson had written for the paper. The piece was titled “A Flower for the Graves,” about the infamous bombing of a Birmingham church in which four children were killed. As a white southerner himself, Eugene Patterson wrote to his fellow white southerners daily, giving them guidance when guidance was needed. Patterson was brave for writing such a column in a time when, as a white man, going against Jim Crowe meant that he was part of the minority. In “A Flower for the Graves,” Patterson uses narrative while making an argument. In the first paragraph, he tells a story of a “negro mother weeping in the street on a Sunday morning in front of a Baptist Church in Birmingham. In her hand she held a shoe, one shoe, from the foot of her dead child.” This allows the reader to picture and to empathize with that mother. The emotional appeal of this opening helps Patterson to get the audience’s attention. The white southerners, with children, could then feel the pain of this woman, regardless of her color. At the end of the first paragraph he places himself and anyone reading in the story when he says “we hold that shoe with her. Every one of us in the white south holds that small shoe in his hand.” The one bloody shoe, emphasized by Patterson gives the story an ironic yet devastating feeling, which also adds to the emotional appeal. This poor mother probably thought she was doing something good by sending her child to church rather than sending him or her outside to play in the violence unfolding in the streets. By putting the shoe in every white southerner’s hand, Patterson is evoking shame and blame on them rather than the “sick

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