What is Framing?

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Framing is defined to be the process of providing meaning to events in such a manner that is purposed to gather support from enthusiasts so as to reduce the motivation of opponents. Framing, therefore, involves the conscious use of current affairs to design meaningful accounts of oneself so as to be able to motivate ones efforts in a strategic manner.

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The medias role in the fate of the SCLC

The media is a powerful tool in creating public awareness and presenting an outlook on social issues. It is in this regard that most movements will devote most of their time and resources to attracting media coverage. First, the success of the SCLC in attracting strong media coverage relied heavily on its decision to have newsworthy disruption of public order. The possibilities of violence in the meetings that were held by the SCLC was considered to be newsworthy and this motivated media coverage that saw SCLC and Its leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the front headlines for most part of the movements existence. Secondly, the success of the movement in attracting media coverage depended heavily on Kings ability to combine the democratic theories, Christian themes and the philosophy of non-violence together. The use of non-violence philosophies and Christian themes presented the prospects of a peaceful healing to the American people for their racial injustices. The use of these two was quite appealing to the white population who by that time had developed a fear for the anger (expressed through violence) of the black population. The democratic theories was used to give hope and a sense of purpose to the African-Americans who had been segregated upon for too long. Lastly, most of the messages that were displayed in demonstrations were premeditated and clearly presented in a manner that further attracted media attention. For instance, the decision to launch the anti-segregation campaigns in Birmingham was consciously made because SCLC leaders believed that Birmingham leaders would most likely respond with violence thus leading to further media coverage.

How SCLC framed their actions

King and other leaders of the SCLC were able to frame the segregation in Birmingham by wooing violence from the system while restraining violence in their supporters. Eventually, through the use of non-violence philosophy and Christian themes, the SCLC were able to depict the demonstration as a clash between a worthy cause against a bad system. The SCLC movement was able to use the threat of violence to show a liability in the system of the time. There was a growing awareness of the effect of white violence in stimulating sympathy. The SCLC movement were able to successfully use framing to form the reluctant federal government to pass anti-segregation bills. The images of the protests that had ultimately attracted violence from the white dominated federal government were used by international sympathizers to launch campaign against the federal government.

How George Wallace framed the civil rights movement

George Wallace used the Independence Day celebration to stimulate emotions of the price the people had to pay for independence and to justify how wrong it was to sign the anti-segregation bill the day before. George Wallace represented the white conservatives who were not willing to allow the common use of public schools and hospitals between the blacks and the whites. Wallace was outspoken on his opposition against civil rights legislation and Supreme Court rulings that were against segregation. His support for segregation and in particular his preventing black students from entering Alabama University in 1963 made him a hero to most conservatives.

The role of the federal government in the progression of the revolt against segregation legislation

George Wallace used the decision by the federal government to pass anti-segregation legislation to demonstrate that the government was selling short their hard won freedom. Wallace framed the Supreme Court rulings and the civil rights legislation to lay a foundation for the conservative revolt that blossomed in the 1970s and 1980s. The revolt was mainly white dominated and presented the backlash against the abolishing of segregation.

Even though George Wallace was able to create sentiments against the Supreme Courts ruling against segregation, the strategies that were employed in the revolt were not as successful as those initiated by the SCLC. The SCLC through King was able to consistently frame the system as bad through provoking them to use violence against the demonstrators while keeping their supporters and sympathizers from using violence. The disruption of public order was a means of ensuring adequate media coverage that ensured that they gain support from international sympathizers who would in turn increase the pressure on the federal government to pass segregation favorable legislation. The success of the SCLC lay in kings ability to frame events in four occasions. His ability to lure segregationists into actions that were considered extremely violent even at the time while being able to prevent their protestors from engaging in violence is considered to be the actual reason for the success of the SCLC movement. Also, the inclusion of Christian themes created the image of a peaceful black demonstration that could not be countered by the white conservatives who were for segregation. The combination of factors that included the drawing of the media through the use of potentially violent demonstrations was the key to the success of the movement.

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