4: Political cartoons depicting the Statue of Liberty
“The New Colossus” has been quoted and misquoted countless times in American popular culture, often to make a political statement. These cartoons highlight some of the many ways in which the poem’s most famous line has been reinterpreted.
Suggested Activities: Study these cartoons with students. Ask them which they think is strongest in making its point and why. Reveal the title of each cartoon, and ask if the title changes or adds to their interpretation of the image. Discuss: Why is this excerpt of Lazarus’s poem quoted and reinterpreted so frequently? What makes it work so well?
Have students draw their own cartoon using an image of the Statue of Liberty and their own version of the excerpt from Lazarus. Their cartoons can comment on a wide variety of contemporary American issues, not only on the issue of immigration.
Sources: Zanetti, Paul. "The Fanatical Boston Bombers." April 21, 2013.; Blackwell, Douglas. "Give them (not me) your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free," December 13, 2015.; Greenberg, Steven. "Give me your tired..." in Seattle Post Intelligencer, May 8, 1989.