Formal Essay – African American Civil Rights

| February 4, 2016

• The main focus of the paper should be to compare and contrast the different approaches and ideas used by African American leaders to fight for civil rights for African Americans from the late 1800s to the 1960s.

• Papers should discuss the specific arguments and points made by each author in the primary sources. you should also discuss each author’s point of view (biases, background, reasons why they might have held the viewpoint they did)

• You should demonstrate in their paper that they have completed the required textbook readings by incorporating relevant background information into their papers. Papers should not just be a summary of the primary source documents in the workbook.

• You should try to address some of the following questions in their papers:
• What did Booker T. Washington propose as the best way for African Americans to obtain civil rights and equality? Did he feel equality should just be given to African Americans or that Africans Americans needed to struggle and earn equality? What did Washington mean when he said “Cast down your bucket where you are”? What kinds of jobs did Washington believe African Americans should do and why?
• What criticisms did W.E.B. DuBois have of Washington’s ideas and approach? What did DuBois believe had been the result of accepting and following Washington’s approach for African Americans? What “truths” did DuBois believe Washington and his followers were ignoring? Who did DuBois feel the burden of solving the civil rights issue fell upon to solve? What did he feel needed to be done to bring about racial equality?
• Langston Hughes was critical of many of the ideas of African American activists like W.E.B DuBois. What does his poem, “I, too, sing America,” tell you about his beliefs and how they contrasted with the beliefs of DuBois and the African American middle class of the time? Is the narrator ashamed of his race or proud? Does he feel he needs to earn acceptance through hard work and submissiveness like Washington would have advocated? Does he feel he needs to be uplifted by the more well-educated African American elite? Who does he place the blame for discrimination on? Why will “they” be ashamed?
• Why was Jackie Robinson tired of being patient? What did he feel African Americans had to do? Why? Why did he feel patience and forbearance were not working? What did he want President Eisenhower to do?
• What approach did Martin Luther King, Jr. advocate in the quest for civil rights? Did he believe civil rights advocates should use aggression and violence to achieve their goals? Why not? What were some of the things King was calling for? What was his dream?
• What common problem did Malcolm X believe all African Americans faced, regardless of religion? What did he believe African Americans needed to do to achieve civil rights? Why was 1964 such an important year? What did he propose Africans Americans do in response to what was happening that year? What two tools did they have to use? Would Malcolm X agree with the ideas in Langston Hughes’ poem? What criticisms did Malcolm X have of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Kennedy/Johnson administrations? Did he agree with the non-violent approach to attaining civil rights? Why not? What approach did he propose to use instead?

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