HIS 200 Learning Block 5-2 Discussion Rubric
Overview: The discussion activities throughout this course offer you the opportunity to apply key concepts to course content and the option to engage with your
Prompt: In Theme: Analyzing History, learning block 5-2 (page 2), you were prompted to consider the following discussion prompt based on your reading in the
webtext. You are required to post one initial post in the learning environment discussion that fully responds to the prompt, is related to the topic, fulfills the
guidelines for submission, and clearly communicates your message. You are not required to respond to your classmates’ posts but are encouraged to take
advantage of the option to take a look at your classmates’ ideas and respond to their posts. The prompt and its original location in the webtext are listed in this
table in case you want to refer back to the reading as you draft your post.
and Dr. King
Based on your reading in the webtext, respond to the following prompt in one to two paragraphs.
Describe the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on the effort to expand African American civil rights.
How might the struggle for civil rights have evolved differently if Dr. King had not been killed?
Block 5-2 (page
Be sure to answer the following question in your post: What were one or two specific consequences of Dr. King’s
assassination? Do you think these events would have taken place even if Dr. King had not been assassinated? Why or
Guidelines for Submission: Your post should be 1 to 2 paragraphs in length.
Engagement of Post
Fully responds to the prompt
Length of Response
Answers provided are one to two
paragraphs in length
Post is related to the impact and
consequences of Dr. King’s
Clearly communicates post in
answering prompt, conveying key
Needs Improvement (85%)
Responds to part of the prompt, but
post leaves some of the prompt
Answers provided are only one to
Post is only partially related to the
impact and consequences of Dr.
Communicates post in response to
prompt, but lacks clarity
Not Evident (0%)
Does not respond to any part of the
Does not provide answers
Post is not provided
Post is not legible and key ideas or
thoughts are not understandable
Theme: Analyzing History
When it's done right, an historical essay can read like a mystery novel. Trying to figure out what really
happened in the distant past requires us to search for clues (primary sources) and listen to expert
witnesses (secondary sources). But in the end, all that historical evidence doesn't speak for itself; it's up
to the historian to make sense of things.
That's what we mean by historical analysis.
In Theme: Analyzing History, we'll see how
historians sift and assess the evidence to come up
with—and then refine—their thesis statement and
message. Because historical research is an
ongoing process, so too is the process of thesis
development. In Theme: Analyzing History,
you'll have an opportunity to revise your thesis
statement to reflect research you've conducted
since turning in your writing plan.
The thesis, of course, is just the jumpingoff point
for the historical essay you're working on
throughout this course. Like a good mystery
(Click icon for citation)
novelist, you've also got to give your readers the
lay of the land, with an overview that provides
them with background information and relevant historical context.
Another important part of the historian's job is showing how different historical forces and events relate
to each other. In this theme, we'll explore the historical concept of contingency, which stresses the
interconnectedness of historical events and the difficulty of predicting future outcomes.
Finally, you need to show how the evidence supports your thesis. That's the essence of historical
analysis: choosing the most compelling evidence and interpreting it in the most convincing way, to build
the strongest possible argument for your thesis. In this theme, you'll see how historians construct an
analysis and begin the process of building one yourself.
After completing this theme, you should be able to:
Utilize historical evidence in drawing conclusions about the impact of historic events on American
Copyright © 2017 MindEdge Inc. All rights reserved. Duplication prohibited.
Theme: Analyzing History | Learning Block 5-1: The Struggle for Civil
The Struggle for Civil Rights
From the earliest colonial days, American history has been haunted by the specter of African slavery.
Even after its legal abolition in 1865 America's "original sin," as James Madison first called it, lived on
through a deeply entrenched system of legal, social, and economic discrimination against African
Americans. (Madison, 1820)
The movement to overturn that systemic discrimination has been
ongoing for more than 150 years. The most blatant form of racial
discrimination—the system of de jure segregation enacted in the
South, which legally required the discriminatory treatment of African
Americans—was essentially abolished by federal legislation, including
the Voting Rights Act, in the 1960s. But the problem of de facto
segregation has long been a fact of life not only in the South but
throughout the nation.
(Click icon for citation)
It continued—in the segregated schools of cities such as Boston, and
the segregated housing markets of cities such as Chicago and Los
Angeles—long after the legal and political battles of the modern Civil
Rights Movement had ended. While African Americans, as a group,
have made significant gains in income and educational attainment over
the last 50 years, de facto segregation continues to affect many aspects
of American life. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012; National Center for
Education Statistics, 2012)
In this theme, we will focus on the modern Civil Rights Movement,
looking at efforts to affirm and expand AfricanAmerican rights in two specific areas that have been
central to the overall civil rights struggle: voting and public education. The fight to end the
disenfranchisement of AfricanAmerican voters and secure their right to vote, free from intimidation and
legal obstruction, culminated with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The struggle to
desegregate public schools and win equal educational opportunities for AfricanAmerican children—first
affirmed in the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)—has continued for
generations. In this theme, we will look specifically at the tumultuous and emotionally charged effort to
desegregate Boston's public schools in the mid1970s.
We will use these two case studies to examine the historical concept of contingency and to learn how to
use historical evidence to draw conclusions about the impact of historical events on American society,
through the process of historical analysis.
In this learning block, you will:
Review the historical context behind the struggle for civil rights for African Americans, the core
concept of this theme
Analyze the relationship between the following key approaches to studying history: research
question, historical evidence, and thesis statement
J. (1820). Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette,
National Center for Education Statistics (2012). Fast Facts: Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race. Retrieved from
The Early Struggle for Civil Rights
The end of the Civil War brought the legal abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment, the first of the
three socalled Civil War Amendments. But the end of slavery did not bring equality for the former slaves.
While the southern states had to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment as a condition of their readmission to
the Union, most of them quickly enacted laws to close off opportunities to the newly freed slaves and
deny them the rights of citizenship. The postwar Black Codes—based on older southern laws that sought
to limit the freedoms of freed blacks in the years before the Civil War—barred African Americans from
voting, denied them most legal rights, and restricted their ability to find work outside of plantations.
Such laws laid the groundwork for the later Jim Crow laws, which institutionalized segregation in all
walks of life throughout the South. (Dunning, 1907)
In response to the Black Codes, Congress passed the Civil Rights
Act of 1866, which formally made African Americans citizens.
To further safeguard the citizenship rights of the freed slaves,
Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified
in 1868. The Reconstruction Acts, passed in 1867 and 1868,
essentially placed the southern states under military rule for a
decade, allowing for a brief period in which freed African
Americans in the South enjoyed political rights.
The profound significance of the Fourteenth Amendment was
that, through its Equal Protection and Due Process clauses, it
prohibited the states from abridging the rights and liberties
guaranteed to all citizens under the Constitution. In reality,
however, for African Americans through the end of the 19th
century (and well beyond), the promise of equal protection and
due process went unrealized. The southern states flouted the
Fourteenth Amendment, and the Supreme Court refused to
interpret it as making the Bill of Rights binding on the states.
The house in Atlanta where Martin
Luther King Jr. was born is now part
of the Martin Luther King Jr. National
Historic Site. (Click icon for citation)
The Black Codes also led Congress to pass the Fifteenth
Amendment (ratified in 1870), which guaranteed African
Americans the right to vote. It did so by decreeing that citizens'
right to vote could not be denied or abridged based on race, color,
or prior slave status. Despite the Fifteenth Amendment, southern states continued to deprive blacks of
their voting rights by imposing voterqualification restrictions (e.g., literacy tests and propertyownership
requirements) that effectively disenfranchised African Americans. (Valelly, 2009)
The Fifteenth Amendment divided the pioneering women's rights movement, which sought the franchise
for women as well as for African Americans. As we saw in Theme: Communicating Historical Ideas,
some leaders in the nascent woman suffrage movement opposed ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment
because it did not also extend the voting right to women. Women did not gain the right to vote until
ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.
Jim Crow Laws and the Segregated South
Unyielding southern resistance to black equality led Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1875,
which prohibited racial segregation in public accommodations such as hotels, restaurants, and
transportation. It also barred the exclusion of African Americans from jury service. But when the federal
government ended its military occupation of the South in 1877, marking the end of Reconstruction, the
southern states further defied federal efforts to guarantee the civil rights of blacks. (Foner, 1988)
Southern state legislatures enacted Jim Crow laws,
which discriminated against African Americans by
requiring racial segregation of schools, restaurants,
hotels, theaters, and other public accommodations.
Under Jim Crow laws, the southern states created
separate facilities for whites and blacks in every walk
of life, covering all public accommodations. This
institutionalization of racebased separation throughout
the South, which endured for a hundred years after the
Civil War, was known as de jure segregation because
it was backed by law.
"Colored" water cooler in streetcar terminal,
After Reconstruction, African Americans throughout
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1939. (Click icon for
the South faced state legal systems that denied them
equal justice and routinely violated their dueprocess
rights. The courts and law enforcement in the South abided lynching and other white mob violence
committed against blacks. And the federal courts, well into the 1900s, proved unwilling or unable to
uphold the civil rights of blacks. (Equal Justice Initiative, 2015)
Disenfranchisement Despite the Fifteenth Amendment
After Reconstruction, the southern states devised obstacles to block African Americans from voting
despite the Fifteenth Amendment, which decreed that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of
race or color. To circumvent the Fifteenth Amendment's intent, southern states employed devices for
determining voter eligibility which, though not expressly racial, had the particular effect of
disenfranchising blacks, who were overwhelmingly poor and uneducated.
These devices included literacy tests, poll taxes (a tax paid
as a qualification for voting), and propertyownership
requirements. Many states in the South also imposed a so
called grandfather clause, which restricted voting to those
whose grandfathers had voted before Reconstruction (i.e.,
pre 1867). Grandfather clauses effectively denied the
descendants of slaves the right to vote. (Valelly, 2009) All
of these legally enacted devices represented forms of de jure
segregation—as opposed to de facto segregation, which
lacked the force of law.
A poll tax receipt. Image courtesy of the
African American Intellectual History
Black disenfranchisement continued in one form or another throughout the South for a century after the
Separate but Equal
Legal segregation in the South was validated by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision at the close of
the 1800s. Homer Plessy, an African American, defied a Louisiana segregation law by riding in a "whites
only" railroad car. He was arrested when he refused to move to a car reserved for blacks as mandated by
the state law. Plessy challenged the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that segregation violated
the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Supreme Court rejected this challenge, ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that state laws requiring
racial segregation in public facilities are constitutional if the facilities are "separate but equal." The
Court's decision ignored the fact that most facilities available to African Americans were not equal but
vastly inferior; nonetheless, Plessy and the doctrine of "separate but equal" remained the law of the land
for more than half a century. (Medley, 2003)
Dunning, W. (1907). Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 18651877. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Equal Justice Initiative (2015). Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror. Retrieved from
Foner, E. (1988). Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 18631877. New York: Harper & Row.
Medley, K. (2003). We as Freemen: Plessy v. Ferguson: The Fight Against Legal Segregation. Gretna, LA: Pelican
Valelly, R. (2009). The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement. Chicago, IL: University of
The Struggle for Civil Rights, 1900 – 1950
The first half of the 20th century saw limited progress in the fight to secure the civil rights of African
Americans. Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute and the leading figure in the
AfricanAmerican community in the early 1900s, was an outspoken proponent of black education and
entrepreneurship. But Washington was criticized within the AfricanAmerican community for his
strategic decision not to challenge Jim Crow laws and the disenfranchisement of black voters directly.
More militant AfricanAmerican leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois and Ida
Wells, founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP) in 1909, with the mission of actively fighting against racial
prejudice. The organization focused in its early years largely on efforts to
prevent lynchings in the South and on mounting legal challenges to Jim
Crow legislation. (Finch, 1981)
W.E.B. Du Bois, 1918.
(Click icon for citation)
The return of thousands of AfricanAmerican veterans of World War I
highlighted the huge divide between America's rhetorical commitment to
democracy and individual freedom and the reality of segregation,
disenfranchisement, and antiblack violence in the South. This gave rise to
the New Negro movement, which sparked the larger cultural and intellectual
movement known as the Harlem Renaissance (Gates, H.L., 1988)
Beginning shortly before World War I, the Great Migration
saw an estimated six million African Americans move from
the deep South to the North, Midwest, and West over the
next 60 years. Fleeing segregation and poverty, many of
these African Americans found work in industrial cities
such as Chicago, Detroit, and Gary, Indiana. While many
African Americans had previously been suspicious of
organized labor, A. Philip Randolph, head of the
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, became the leading
voice for black workers within the labor movement. As the
number of African Americans working in industrial jobs
swelled, organized labor became increasingly outspoken in
its advocacy for black workers' rights; in the 1950s and
1960s, labor would be a powerful ally of the civil rights
movement. (Lemann, 1992)
The Lafayette Theatre, Harlem, 1936. (Click
icon for citation)
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit African Americans disproportionally hard; the collapse of cotton
prices drove thousands of Southern sharecroppers to the brink (Thompson and Clarke, 1935), and the
scarcity of factory jobs led to increased racial tensions in Northern industrial cities. The unemployment
rate among African Americans was estimated to exceed 50 percent—more than twice the rate among
whites. (Wolters, 1970)
African Americans, traditionally supporters of the Republican Party because of its historical opposition
to slavery, were initially skeptical of Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, who had won the Presidency with
strong backing from the South. Early New Deal programs were not aimed toward the AfricanAmerican
community, and some, such as the Federal Housing Authority, initially reinforced existing patterns of
segregation. But other programs, such as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian
Conservation Corps, provided jobs to substantial numbers of African Americans, especially in the North.
By the end of the decade, many African Americans in the North were strongly behind the New Deal, and
urban black voters began a major shift that would eventually make them an integral part of the
Democratic electoral coalition. (Reed, 2008)
America's entry into World War II effectively ended the Depression, as factories geared up for the war
effort. At the same, time, more than a million African Americans joined the armed forces; when they
returned from war in 1945, they embodied the argument that African Americans were entitled to the
same freedoms for which America had fought in Europe and the Pacific. (Taylor, 2014)
While resistance to the campaign for AfricanAmerican civil rights was still deeply entrenched, the late
1940s saw a couple of notable victories: Jackie Robinson famously broke baseball's "Color Line" in
1947, and in 1948, President Harry S Truman issued an executive order that desegregated the U.S.
military. While these breakthroughs were largely symbolic, ...
Purchase answer to see full