Discussion Prompts (choose one of the following)
- Equal rights and opportunities for African Americans to vote were vitally important to Civil Rights activists during the 1960s. What sort of restrictions that prevented African Americans from voting were these activists trying to eliminate or fix? What methods did they use for pursuing these goals and enacting change? Be sure to consider the arguments made by opponents as well as advocates for voting rights. Do you similarities with historical attempts at voter suppression and our current moment? I recommend a close reading of Documents 10-16 in Chapter 13 of Constructing the American Past to help you evaluate this moment in U.S. History.
- What was nonviolent direct action? Do you think it was effective in advancing civil rights? Was civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action necessary, in your view, to achieve progress in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s? What other techniques might have worked to create change? Given the focus on voting rights, what do you think it is more important than grassroots activism (i.e. organizations like SNCC and events like the Freedom Summer and other marches) in creating social change? In your post be sure to weigh the perspectives of activist as well as the views of politicians. Consider how or why they opposed certain civil rights law or policies, and what motivated other to support the freedom struggle. Be sure to include specific examples from the documents as evidence to support your views.
- Jackie Robinson is featured in several chapters of Constructing the American Past (Chapter 11, Document 5; Chapter 13, Documents 1, 2, and 3; and Chapter 14, Document 2). Among these documents are letters that he wrote to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. How do these primary sources change your understanding of Robinson? Based on these texts, what do you make of his activism? How would you characterize his politics and goals? Be sure to include specific examples from the documents as evidence to support your views.