All Men Are Created Unequal
Exhibited in Ligature 29— Awarded Best Junior
All Men Are Created Unequal is a multi-narrative book focusing on the Declaration of Independence and critiques on its relevancy in modern day America. I paired quotes from the Declaration of Independence with parts of American history that seemingly contradict each other. The book highlights the hypocrisy of those who signed the document and how many historical events have gone against what is written in the Declaration, specifically relating to the statement “All men are created equal.” The cover includes a collage of many people in American history that fought against oppression (including Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, and Sitting Bull) overlaid onto an image of the Declaration of Independence.
“He has destroyed the lives of our people.”
The Manifest Destiny is symbolized in the painting American Progress (1872) by John Gast. In the Declaration of Independence, the colonists stated that “He [King George II] has destroyed the lives of our people.” However, the treatment of Native Americans to accomplish the Manifest destiny shows how colonists are doing the same. The ripped edges and halftone textures applied to the images were used to emulate the collaging of newspaper articles since all the topics brought up in the narrative are ingrained in American history.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...”
The Civil Rights Movement is shown to prove that “All Men are create equal” meant white, European, landowning men, not actually all humans. The colors chosen for the book is a faded version of red, white, and blue to show the age of the Declaration of Independence. It was once held to a high standard, but through time and many events in American history contradicting the document, the impact of its words have faded.
It’s important to note who actually signed the Declaration and many of them owned slaves. In the table of contents foldout included in the page containing the full transcript of the Declaration of Independence, a list of all the signers is shown with the heads of those who owned slaves crossed out. The ideals of many of the signers clearly don’t resonate with the statement that "All men are created equal.”
History of the distant past aren’t the only relevant events that contradict the American colonists’ writing. Violence in America is still prevalent, especially gun violence. The Declaration stated that the fighting against the Native Americans has caused an “undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions,” while nowadays Americans inflict harm on their own people. The foldout relating to this quote includes statistics of gun violence, emphasizing the large amount of fatalities.