Instructor: K. Jones
Formal Essay – African American Civil Rights
QUESTION: Compare and contrast the differing ideas and approaches taken by African American civil rights leaders from the late 1800s to the 1960s. Which approaches were most effective and why?
REQUIRED READINGS: Textbook – Chapter 21, p. 429-30; Chapter 22, p. 451-2; Chapter 24, p. 498-9, 501-2; Chapter 29, p. 611-621. Primary source documents in the back of the textbook (use four of the six):
1) Document 15 (p. 30-32) – “Atlanta Compromise,” Booker T. Washington (1895)
2) Document 16 (p. 33-34) – “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington,” W.E.B. DuBois (1903)
3) Document 36 (p. 71) – “I, Too,” Langston Hughes (1926)
4) Document 54 (p. 103) – Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower (1958)
5) Document 63 (p. 121-22) – “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)
6) Document 64 (p. 123-25) – “Ballot of Bullet” Speech, Malcolm X (1964)
I. Format (30 points)
1) Papers should be typed. Papers should be no less than 2 full pages long and should be double-spaced. Students should use 12 pt font and 1-inch margins.
2) A header is required and should include the following information: student’s name, date, class (HIST 202), and instructor’s name (Jones). There should be only one or two spaces at most between the header and the beginning of the paper.
3) Students may include a title for their papers. If they choose to include this, it should be no more than one space underneath the header in the center of the paper. The body of the paper should begin no more than one space underneath the title. Titles are optional.
4) Papers should have an introduction, body, and conclusion. The body of the paper should be divided up into separate paragraphs, one for each main topic or point made. The first sentence of each paragraph should be indented.
5) Papers should have a clear and specific thesis statement that does not just restate the main question being asked. Thesis statements can be more than one sentence long, but should also be concise.
6) Sources should be cited within the text of the essay using MLA format when appropriate. This means that students should use parenthetical documentation when directly quoting something or when paraphrasing another author’s idea or argument. Sentences that convey a student’s own thoughts or arguments, or state factual information, do not need to be cited. Citations should include the author’s last name and the page number.
7) A Works Cited page is optional.
II. Spelling/Grammar and Style (20 points)
Papers should have minimal spelling and grammatical errors. Please use spell check while writing your paper. Spell check does not catch every misspelled word, so please also proofread your papers carefully for any spelling errors. Sentence fragments, incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, misuse of words, and inappropriate use of punctuation are all considered serious grammatical errors and will negatively affect your grade. Sentences and paragraphs should be coherent, clear, and well organized. If you feel you need assistance with spelling, grammar, or style, please either turn in a rough draft to me or visit the Writing Center.
III. Content (50 points) 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. In addition to the background information from the lectures and textbook, students must specifically use at least four of the six assigned primary source documents to back up their arguments. You are required to use only the assigned sources listed. No other sources are allowed. Papers should discuss the specific arguments and points made by each author in the primary sources. Students should also discuss each author’s point of view (biases, background, reasons why they might have held the viewpoint they did). Students 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. Students 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?
Qualities & Criteria
Needs Improvement (5-6 pts)
Unsatisfactory (0-4 pts)
Format (Weight: 3/10)
Follows require-ments of length, font and style Sources are cited correctly using MLA format.
Closely follows all the requirements related to format. May have one or two minor format errors. Source are cited correctly
Follows, for the most part, all the requirements related to format. Some requirements are not followed. Sources are cited, for the most part, correctly.
Poorly follows the requirements related to format. Many requirements ignored or not met. Sources are not cited and/or not cited correctly.
Does not meet requirements related to format.
Content (Weight: 5/10) The main topic is addressed clearly The background information is accurate and used effectively Background information and specific examples are based on careful reading of the sources Good understanding of sources Sources are used effectively in the essay Authors’ point of view is discussed effectively
The essay addresses the main questions being asked and the effectively addresses the paper topic. The background information used necessary and sufficient to discuss these issues. A lot of discussion of authors’ point of view. The required number of primary sources are used effectively in the essay and are cited appropriately.
The essay mostly addresses the main questions being asked and the effectively addresses the paper topic. The background information used is, for the most part, necessary and sufficient to discuss these issues. Some discussion of authors’ point of view. Most of the primary sources are used effectively in the essay and are cited appropriately.
The essay poorly addresses the main questions being asked and/or does not address the paper topic effectively. The background information used is not sufficient to discuss the major issues of the essay. There is no or little use of the primary sources and/or they are not used effectively in the essay. Little to no discussion of authors’ point of view. Sources are not cited.
The essay does not address the main questions being asked and/or does not address the paper topic. Background information is not used to discuss the major issues of the essay. No use of primary sources and no citations provided. No discussion of authors’ point of view.
Spelling/ Grammar/ Style (Weight: 2/10) Clarity and coherence of sentences and paragraphs Correct use of spelling, grammar and use of English Organization
The essay is well written from start to finish, with no spelling, grammar or use of English errors. The essay is well organized, clear and presents ideas in a coherent way.
The essay is well written for the most part, with few spelling, grammar or use of English errors. The essay is for the most part well organized, clear and presents ideas in a coherent way.
The essay is not well written, and contains many spelling errors, and/or grammar errors and/or use of English errors. The essay is badly organized, lacks clarity and/or does not present ideas in a coherent way.
Clarity of ideas and organization is severely compromised by poor spelling, grammar, and style.
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