The Civil Rights Era changed the U.S. radically.

Along as it has an Intro, Body (6 paragraphs), and a Conlusion

Textbook to reference: Faragher and Buhle, Out of Many,

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Please consider the following:


What you need to do is write a good, fact-filled essay that is wholly in your own words (remember the college spends a small fortune in making plagiarism software available to on-line instructors, so please avoid this temptation). I am interested in YOUR opinion, not someone else’s ideas.


To deal with the exams, tell me whether you believe the topic to be true, false, or true and false, then marshal facts from the book and lecture notes to support your opinion. Write in English, Spanish, or Tex-Mex (as long as I can understand the language, you’re in good shape) and show me you understand the material and are conversant in its nuances. Do not be shy about writing – with your book and lecture notes before you, writing a fairly lengthy tome about the subject at hand should not be too difficult.

Remember that essays are not five paragraphs long – those are postcards. Delve into the topic fully and show me why you think what you do. Please note I will not grade your opinion, regardless of whether yours agrees with my own. However, I will grade you on your ability to defend your opinion with facts. The more you use specific facts to show why you think what you do, the higher your grade will be. The fact I may disagree with your informed opinions is irrelevant. We are here to engage in academic discourse, not so we can become intellectual clones of each other, and to do that, you must show me the facts you considered as you arrived at your opinion. Hence, the more reference you make of specific facts from the book and lecture notes, the higher your grade will be. Remember that I am assuming you have these resources at hand when you are writing, so please use them. (FWIW: a college-level essays should be somewhere between four- to six-pages long, double-spaced and written in 11-point Arial type.)


Please use the next few days to ask me questions about the essay. Do not ask: “What should I write?” Instead, show me what’s rolling around in your mind and I can nudge you in a direction that will help you.

You will notice there is no mention of a specific length for the exams here. Finding a good length is very much part of this first test. Given the hints I gave above, you should know a couple of pages simply will not be enough to state what you must. Once I have graded the first exam, I will let you know (through an announcement – please make sure to read these!) what a good length is for a freshman-level college essay.

Take care and have a great week!


Civil Rights Lecture amendment


Hi. One of my favorite refrains about history is that it is not “was,” it is “is.” What that means is that history is the necessary precursor that explains how we (however you define that term) got to the present day. History is like the breath in our lungs; we cannot live without it.

The circumstances of last two months mean the stories mentioned in Lecture 23 have become disturbingly timely. The overarching point of this final lecture of the course is that many different groups of people found fault with the way of life afforded to them in the U.S. and sought various means of improving their situations. The problems identified in the readings for the final section of the course – uneven enforcement of the rule of law, prejudice of many kinds, psychological distance between political leaders and the populace as a whole – have yet to be resolved in the minds of many.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Carlos Ingram-Lopez, Rayshard Brooks, and others, at the hands of police, have rocked a country already reeling from a novel coronavirus pandemic. Society can seem to be collapsing, yet a NY Times poll published June 27, 2020 shows an overwhelming number of self-identified Trump voters, and a majority of self-proclaimed Biden voters, are hopeful about the future.

So why do people think this? A hint can be seen in what different groups want to achieve. To my mind (and in an interesting echo of the Progressive Era discussed in Lecture 18), there are three distinct kinds of people active today: conservatives, liberals, and radicals.

First things first, conservatives can be either Republicans or Democrats. A person who is a conservative is one who believes there are alternatives to most every societal problem. There is always a place for calm, rational discussion, and the result of that exchange of ideas can help propel society forward. However, such discussions must not affect the overarching structures of society. While problems may sometimes exist, they are aberrations that occur within the system of democratic, industrial, capitalism. As such, any changes that occur in society do not need to be profound ones. Trust in the system as it exists currently, as well as in the inherent goodness of people, and all will eventually turn out positively for the greatest number. To be a conservative means to support the preservation of the status quo – and the greatest assistance any government can provide to people is to get out of the way of the virtue of the average citizen.

Liberals are uniquely Democrats and are opposed to this view of the world as a whole and the U.S. in particular. Liberals seek to win over conservatives to the idea that more sweeping reforms of democratic, industrial, capitalism, are needed to preserve it. Liberals support programs intended to make the public and private spaces we inhabit more inclusive of diversity of opinions, worldviews, lifestyles, and essential natures. Liberals do not shy away from using governmental power to bring substantive changes along more quickly, but they do so only in the hope of preserving democratic, industrial, capitalism.

The final group active now are radicals. These people have no unified ideology, but one can make some general statements about them. Radicals believe any attempt to tweak the system of democratic, industrial, capitalism is wasted effort. Dramatic changes, perhaps even to the point of destroying the system, is the only way to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number most quickly and efficiently. Radicals tend to be passionately devoted to environmentalism as well as to the belief that structural racism is inseparable from democratic, industrial, capitalism. The range in political ideology from democratic socialist (inspired by the political and economic systems one sees in Scandinavian countries such as Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland) to anarchist (a person who believes people can eventually learn how to think altruistically).

The recent national peaceful protests and looting have been met with horror by conservatives, Liberals have supported the peaceful protests, but decried the looters. Radicals largely embrace both, seeing them as the necessary by-products of a system teetering on the verge of collapse (which they claim can be seen most clearly by the disconnect between the booming stock market and the deteriorating mainstream economy). While conservatives purport the ability of the system to promote justice for everyone (“All Lives Matter”), liberals will shout “Black Lives Matter” because it is they who are most imperiled in today’s U.S. Finally, radicals declare their belief that “BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) Power Matters” because racial equality can only be achieved when the system of white supremacy that has been nurtured by democratic, industrial, capitalism, is replaced with one built upon the ability of all people to control their destinies.

As mentioned above, these are many of the same issues that drove the Progressive Era. As you will read in Lecture 23, these are the same issues that drove the Civil Rights Era. In both instances, a mixture of conservative and liberal worldviews won out.

And here we are. Notice please the final exam topic asks you to consider whether the Civil Rights Era changed the U.S. radically and then ask yourself this question: can equality, in any form, come into being in a system that necessarily ranks people according to how much money they have? Can capitalism allow equality of any kind to exist?

I hope this helps. Take care.

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