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American history Discussion

1.Forum: General Discussion Question: Cultural Representation: What is it worth?  Referring to the tremendous amount of interest in African-American artists such as himself, Langston Hughes famously remarked that  ″the Negro was in vogue″ during the Harlem Renaissance. But despite that artists of all types, including musicians, writers, poets, filmmakers and painters were receiving unprecedented attention from white publishers, white record company owners, and white patrons of the arts, what did the artists of the Renaissance and the Blues Queens accomplish? How important was it to the New Negro Movement to have cultural representatives like these ccelebrities?  And how important were these cultural icons to African American audiences?  Feel free to make comparisons and draw parallels to present-day or recent cultural movements. 2.Primary Document Analysis: Bessie Smith, ″Backwater Blues″ Options Menu: Forum With  ″Backwater Blues,″ Bessie Smith takes up tragic events in the 1920s and documents them in a very socially-conscious song. This was fairly common among 1920s blues and folk singers, who not only wrote typical songs about love and loss of love but often documented other real-life events. For example, I argue in the Great Migration and the Role of the Blues Queen slides that besides providing sheer entertainment for their audiences, many of the blues queens served as chroniclers, or you might say journalists, of the Great Migration, relaying information to both African Americans already in the North and folks down South who had yet to make the trek. Although it is stated in the document you read that contains ″Blackwater Blues″ that it was not written about the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, it came to represent that flood. Why would hearing about the floods down South be important to African-American audiences in both the North and the South? What can we learn from a song and what can a song convey about an event that you might not find in a printed document? Can a song be considered a valid document of an event? Why or why not? 3.The New Deal: Pros and Cons Options Menu: Forum The New Deal (1933-1940), The Roosevelt Administration′s response to the Great Depression, accomplished much in the 1930s but was also limited in many respects.Foremost, it never really pulled the country out of the Depression. On one hand, labor made significant gains and the country′s social services were vastly improved for many with the institution of the Social Security Act. On the other hand, gains achieved by women, African Americans, Mexicans, and Indians were minimal for some and nonexistent for others. Choose what you think were the greatest achievements of the New Deal as well as it′s biggest disappointments and discuss. 4.Primary Document Analysis: Rose Chernin on Organizing the Unemployed in the Bronx in the 1930s (1949) Options Menu: Forum This document is located on p. 340 in Zinn. The Unemployed Councils that Rose Chernin is talking about were formed under the auspices of the Communist Party USA in the early years of the Great Depression. As Chernin explains, the Councils agitated for a number of things during the Depression, including food, price controls, and unemployment insurance. They also organized hunger marches and rent strikes for the unemployed. First, search for some information on Chernin′s background and briefly describe who she is, then address Chernin′s document. What did Chernin′s Unemployed Council accomplish in the Bronx? What are some of the aspects of her organizing work that make her feel ″fulfilled?″ And why were women so important to the Unemployed Councils? And finally, what do you see occurring during the Covid Crisis that is similar, if anything?  5.Although the U.S. government repeatedly stated that the U.S. was fighting in World War II to establish freedom and democracy across the globe, and fighting against a form of slavery imposed by the Nazi regime in Germany, neither freedom nor democracy were very apparent to African Americans on the Home Front. African Americans still faced the Jim Crow laws of segregation and economic deprivation in the South, they faced discrimination in the workplace across the country, and they fought in a segregated military. They also fought back. Did the experiences of African Americans during World War II lay the foundation for the modern civil rights movement, and, if so, how did they do so? 6.This post requires that you read the Yuri Kochiyama document on p. 359 in Zinn, and view the George Takai and U.S. government videos on Japanese-American internment included in this weeks folder Yuri Kochiyama, George Takai, and the U.S. Government all portray what happened to Japanese-Americans from a differing perspective. Takai was a young child when he moved to a relocation camp (some say concentration camp),and  Kochiyama was a young adult. Both of them, writing and recollecting as much older adults, are basing their accounts on memory. The U.S. Government film that you watched was made during World War II to show other Americans how the Japanese-Americans were experiencing the camps and, unlike Takai and Kochiyama, portrays the ″relocation camps″ in a very favorable light. Which interpretation or interpretations do you most believe, and what makes it or them convincing? Conversely, why are other interpretations less convincing? And finally, did Japanese-Americans pose a threat to national security following the bombing of Pearl Harbor that necessitated the camps? You can also bring in any research that you may have done on your own or info that is in the slides or the Foner text 7.The Modern Civil Rights Movement gained momentum in the 1950s, nearly ninety years after Reconstruction. Explain how the movement finally took off in the 1950s. How did  the Cold War interact with and help shape the Civil Rights Movement? Why did it not begin a decade earlier? What had changed in the 1950s both in the realms of technology and in what was politically possible? 8.Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, two Jewish immigrants and U.S. citizens, were convicted of espionage and sentenced do death for spying in the United States and transmitting nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union in 1951.  The Rosenberg trial and the death sentence caused a tremendous amount of controversy in the U.S. and around the world during the Red Scare of the early 1950s. To this day, it remains controversial. As you can see by the letter, the couple maintained their innocence right up to the time that they were put to death in 1953. What made this case so controversial? In what ways was or was not the sentence commensurate with the crime? And in what ways did the ordeal reflect the Cold War atmosphere in the United States at the time? Finally, what was Ethel Rosenberg attempting to convey to her children in her letter of June 19, 1953? 9.The many freedom movements of the 1960s, including the Women′s Liberation Movement, The Chicano Movement, the Antiwar Movement, Red Power, the Gay Liberation Movement, and the Environmental Movement were all heavily influenced by the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. What made the Civil Rights Movement so influential and what what were some of the most successful tactics of the Civil Rights Movement? Do you think the other movements would have existed without the Civil Rights Movement? And How were the goals of the other movements similar to the goals of the Civil Rights Movement? 11.The document you are reading — John Lewis′s ″original″ speech at the March on Washington–is not the speech he gave at the event (Zinn, p. 398). As it says in the introductory paragraph for the ″original″ speech, the speech he gave was toned down so as to not upset the U.S. Government, including President John F. Kennedy, and white (and black) moderate liberals who supported the Movement. Congress was in the midst of debating Kennedy′s Civil Rights Bill, which Lewis originally referred to as being insufficient and unacceptable. Why should (or shouldn′t) a compromise have been made? I have posted a video of the actual speech Lewis made on August 28, 1963 in the Civil Rights folder under content in Blackboard. If you compare and contrast the two speeches, what are some of the outstanding differences? What to you is most impressive about the speech? 12.″I Am Not Your Negro″ is a Raoul Peck film based on a book that noted author James Baldwin had left unfinished when he died in 1987. It successfully connects the Civil Rights Movement that many people periodize as having occurred in the 1950s and 1960s with present movements like Black Lives Matter, lending itself to the conclusion that the CRM is ongoing. After viewing the film, briefly summarize how you think Baldwin may have finished his book had he lived until the present times. You can refer to how director Raoul Peck finished his film or you can stray from that storyline. It′s up to you.

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