University of South Florida African American Civil Rights Activist Essay

Question Description

Write a 750-word response to the following prompt:

Since 1945, the U.S been described as “the leader of the free world.” How true was this statement, based on evidence drawn from both the domestic and international realms? Did the imperatives of Cold War and post-Cold War foreign policy expand or limit freedoms, at home and abroad? Which groups saw an expansion of freedom in the aftermath of World War II? Which groups saw limitations placed on their freedom?

In formulating your answer, choose three different individuals/groups that we have discussed in the third section of this course (modules 11-14). Explain how each of them experienced freedom in the post-1945 U.S. How did the foreign policy imperatives of the Cold War and its aftermath affect notions of freedom for each group? You should also compare these contrasting views of freedom. Were their experiences similar or different?


  • Be as specific as possible, and be sure to use the assigned readings to defend your answer.
  • Answers that are too short or too long (more than 50 words in either direction) will lose points.
  • Your answer must quote and cite at least three different documents from the required reading for Modules 11 through 14.
  • Your answer will be checked for plagiarism using Turn-It-In.
  • Your answer should be based on material covered in class lectures and in the assigned reading for this course. DO NOT CONSULT OTHER SOURCES. I do not want to know what Google tells you about this topic. All the information you need to answer this question can be found in the assigned reading and in your class notes.

Some tips on formatting and length:

  • 750 words is not much! It’s about three double spaced pages (1” margins, 12 point font).
  • Be brief, especially in your introductory paragraph. Get right to your argument, don’t waste words describing everything we’ve covered in the course. There’s no need to make sweeping statements like “Since the beginning of U.S. history….”
  • The prompt asks several different (but closely related) questions. You do not need to answer each and every one of them, but you should try to address most of them (at least in passing) in your essay.
  • Suggested format:
    • 75 words: Introductory paragraph that ends with a clear thesis statement (that is, your argument and your answer to the question asked in the prompt).
    • 200 words: body paragraph 1, which should contain your first example and a quotation from your first document.
    • 200 words: body paragraph 2, which should contain your second example and a quotation from your second document. A transition paragraph between paragraphs should address the similarities/differences between your first and second example.
    • 200 words: body paragraph 3, which should contain your third example and a quotation from your third document. A transition paragraph between paragraphs should address the similarities/differences between this example and your first two examples.
    • 75 words: a concluding paragraph that compares your three examples and reiterates (not word-for-word!) your thesis from the introduction.
  • You MUST introduce and contextualize your quotes. We’ve read dozens of documents this term. You must tell your reader what document you’re quoting.
    • GOOD: Southern African Americans had their own definition of freedom. “We claim freedom as our natural right,” black residents of Nashville stated in a petition, “and ask that in harmony and co-operation with the nation at large, you should cut up the roots the system of slavery.” As these petitioners noted, the work of freedom remained incomplete, even after emancipation.
    • BAD: Southern African Americans had their own definition of freedom. “We claim freedom as our natural right, and ask that in harmony and co-operation with the nation at large, you should cut up the roots the system of slavery.”
      The second example is extraordinarily confusing for your reader. Who are you quoting? Are these your words? Introduce your quotes, and then explain them in your own words.

You should also try to avoid extended quotations. In almost all circumstances, you shouldn’t be quoting more than one or two sentences at a time. When you’re trying to quote a longer passage, intersperse your own words as necessary. When I see paragraph-length citations I start to worry that you’re just trying to fill up space…

Historians use Chicago Manual of Style, Humanities format. Use footnotes, not parenthetical/in-text citations.

Cite the documents from Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom as follows:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Home Life,” in Eric Foner, ed. Voices of Freedom, Vol. 2, 6th Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020), 14-17.

  • You do not need to cite my video lectures. Consider these to be common knowledge shared by the class.
  • Submit your document as a Microsoft Word file – or a similar word processing file. Do not convert the file to a PDF.
  • Late papers will lose 1/3 of a letter grade per 24 hours (i.e. A- becomes B+, C+ becomes C).
  • Please include a word count on your paper.

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Download or preview the Rubric for Analytical Essay.Preview the document

*I will provide the book*

Here are the documents you should use for the paper: (Use at least 3):

  • Document 158 – Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1945)
  • Document 159 – The Truman Doctrine (1947)
  • Document 161 – Walter Lippman, A Critique of Containment (1947)
  • Document 164 – Joseph R. McCarthy on the Attack (1950)
  • Document 167 – Richard M. Nixon, “What Freedom Means to Us” (1959)
  • Document 171 – C. Wright Mills on “Cheerful Robots” (1959)
  • Document 172 – Allen Ginsberg, “Howl” (1955)
  • Document 173 – Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955)
  • Document 174 – John F. Kennedy, Speech on Civil Rights (1963)
  • Document 175 – Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet (1964)
  • Document 176 – Barry Goldwater on “Extremism in Defense of Liberty” (1964)
  • Document 178 – The Port Huron Statement (1962)
  • Document 179 – Paul Potter on the Antiwar Movement (1965)
  • Document 180 – The National Organization for Women (1966)
  • Document 181 – César Chavez, “Letter from Delano” (1969)
  • Document 183 – Brochure on the Equal Rights Amendment (1970s)
  • Document 184 – Barry Commoner, The Closing Circle (1971)
  • Document 185 – Richard E. Blakemore on The Sagebrush Rebellion (1979)
  • Document 188 – Phyllis Schlafly, “The Fraud of the Equal Rights Amendment” (1972)
  • Document 186 – Jimmy Carter on Human Rights (1977)
  • Document 187 – Jerry Falwell, “Listen America!” (1980)
  • Document 190 – Ronald Reagan, Inaugural Address (1981)
  • Document 192 – Bill Clinton, Speech on the Signing of NAFTA
  • Document 193 – Declaration for Global Democracy (1999)
  • Document 195 –Jaula de Oro (Cage of Gold), by Los Tigres del Norte (Tigers of the North) (1984)
  • Document 197 – Second Inaugural Address of George W. Bush (2005)
  • Document 199 – Anthony Kennedy, Opinion of the Court in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
  • Document 200 – Security, Liberty, and the War on Terror (2008)
  • Document 201 – Barack Obama, Eulogy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (2015)

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