The Civil Rights Movement: Leading Voices

The Civil Rights Movement was a direct response to Jim Crow laws in the South and institutionalized racism in the North. As the movement grew, two leaders emerged with different styles and methods, but a shared goal: equality for Black Americans. These two men, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr had a huge impact on the struggle in other marginalized communities, including La Raza, The Asian American Movement, Sovereign Rights (Native American rights), LGBTQ+, and the Women’s Rights Movement; both men remain icons of resistance movements and inspire leaders of all kinds: even moderate and conservative organizations use the tactics of speeches, rallies, marches, and civil disobedience to express their frustration with society and/or government.The language of this unit is sometimes antiquated and it’s important to recognize that all language changes over time and geography. Some of it is clear, like the n-word or “Negro” which we don’t use anymore unless quoting directly from a text for a specific purpose. An example that might be less obvious, but will come up frequently in this unit, is the term “colored people” which is problematic because it puts skin color ahead of humanity. For this reason, the more appropriate phrase is “people of color,” where “people” can be replaced with person/community/student/etc. In online forums, you’ll sometimes see the abbreviation “POC.” For a humorous defense of how and why language has to be fluid, you can watch the TED Talk “What Makes a Word Real?” (Links to an external site.) for a humorous defense of why some language is used in one community but not another, you can watch Ta-Nehisi Coates’ clip on YouTube. and listen to one of the speeches, listed below, both of which are included in the Course Reader.Write 2 paragraphs analysis of how specific words, lines, and/or passages explain the central claim(s), how the ideas are relevant today, and what we might learn from them.You can take this in any direction you’d like, but I recommend getting pretty narrow and specific under the umbrella of whichever topic you choose. The examples from the Declaration probably apply here also: maybe thinking about access to resources (especially during a pandemic); civil unrest, peaceful protest, and/or insurrection; the calls to reform police departments; the fear of government overreach; inequitable power structures or anything else that catches your eye. There are a wealth of ideas in each of these speeches!RequirementsYou must include at least one direct quote, whether from the original language or the annotation.Identify the central claim (main idea) of the speech and explain how it is relevant today.See the attached rubric for grading criteria.Speeches to choose fromMalcolm X’s speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” Luther King Jr’s, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,”

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