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Posted: May 12th, 2023

Reform movements and activism

Using the primary texts supplied, you will choose two corresponding (paired) Progressive Era documents and two Civil Rights Era documents and write a 750-word essay that examines how reformers/activists, organizations and institutions of different periods best used the thematic concepts that framed this course when making their arguments (Self-Determination, Liberty, Dignity, and Equality). For each of your chosen primary sources, you should identify the authors’ main point, and utilizing at least two of the four concepts, examine how they defended their positions. Your paper should conclude by explaining why some contemporaries of the Progressive and Civil Rights Eras found certain arguments compelling, while others found them offensive (to conclude effectively, you will need to explain the historical context in which these texts were written, based on what you have read in the U.S. History Open Stax text, lecture, and learned in class discussion/primary sources). No secondary sources, other than the U.S. History Open Stax text, should be integrated into this paper’s analysis.

See Blackboard for the primary sources.

Goals of this Paper: The purpose of this assignment is to advance your ability to reason through a specific historical question and to express your ideas in writing. Thus:

Your paper should briefly introduce your paper’s topic or question and provide a thesis statement. In a paper of this size, your introduction and thesis statement should appear on the first page, in the paper’s first paragraph.
Your paper should show that you reasoned through the evidence in a fair-minded way. In other words, you should state (paraphrase) what your evidence says and not what you wish it said or think it should say. You need to state the evidence fairly, even if you think it wrong or offensive.
Your paper should use evidence to answer the historical question. You need to explain how the evidence answers the question. The easiest way to figure this is to think through your evidence and argument using one or more of the key concepts for this course.
Your paper should develop and organize your thoughts clearly and logically. Outlining is a necessary, but not required, step in writing a well-organized paper.
Your paper should draw a conclusion that addresses the paper’s chief topic or question and that states your answer to the question or your contribution to the topic.
Historians have noted that activists and politicians of the 20th century drew on religion, emotion, charisma, and controversy in their pursuits for self-determination, liberty, dignity, and equality. As students of history, it is only right that we approach these sources with objectivity and an open-mind – these activists and politicians took these views seriously and we should examine their contexts to help answer why these writers and organizations constructed their arguments for social and economic change

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Reform movements and activism have been a consistent theme throughout American history, with the Progressive and Civil Rights Eras representing two significant periods of social and economic change. In this essay, I will analyze how reformers, activists, organizations, and institutions during these two periods utilized the thematic concepts of self-determination, liberty, dignity, and equality to make their arguments for change. Through examining two paired primary sources from each period, I will identify the authors’ main points, analyze how they utilized these concepts to defend their positions, and explain why some contemporaries found their arguments compelling while others found them offensive.

Progressive Era:

The first paired primary source is the “Address to the Chicago Federation of Labor” by Jane Addams, and the “New Nationalism Speech” by Theodore Roosevelt. In her address, Addams argued that self-determination and liberty were essential for the working-class movement to achieve greater economic and social rights. She stated that workers should have the right to determine their working conditions, to unionize, and to receive fair wages. She emphasized the importance of dignity, stating that workers should not be treated as mere commodities but should be recognized as individuals with inherent worth. Addams believed that these rights would lead to greater equality and that society should work towards these ideals.

Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism Speech” also emphasized the importance of self-determination and liberty, but in a different context. He argued that the government should play a more active role in ensuring that individuals had the opportunity to achieve their potential. He believed that economic inequality prevented people from realizing their self-determination and liberty, and that the government had a duty to intervene to level the playing field. Roosevelt advocated for progressive taxation, workers’ compensation, and the regulation of monopolies. He believed that these policies would lead to greater equality, as individuals would have the opportunity to achieve their potential.

Both Addams and Roosevelt utilized the concepts of self-determination and liberty to argue for greater economic and social rights. Addams emphasized the importance of these ideals for the working class, while Roosevelt argued that the government had a duty to ensure that individuals had the opportunity to achieve them. Both authors also recognized the importance of dignity, with Addams emphasizing the inherent worth of individuals and Roosevelt advocating for policies that would prevent the exploitation of workers.

Civil Rights Era:

The second paired primary source is the “I Have a Dream Speech” by Martin Luther King Jr. and the “Black Power Speech” by Stokely Carmichael. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, King argued that dignity and equality were essential for African Americans to achieve full citizenship rights. He stated that individuals should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. King believed that African Americans deserved equal access to education, employment, and housing. He emphasized the importance of nonviolent resistance and believed that individuals could bring about change through peaceful means.

Carmichael’s “Black Power Speech” took a more militant approach to the struggle for civil rights. He argued that African Americans should embrace their racial identity and reject integration with white society. Carmichael emphasized the importance of self-determination, stating that African Americans should control their own political, economic, and social destiny. He believed that African Americans should build their own institutions and advocate for their own interests. Carmichael argued that the concept of equality was flawed because it implied that African Americans should strive to be like white Americans, rather than embracing their own cultural identity.

King and Carmichael both utilized the concepts of dignity and equality to argue for civil rights. King emphasized the importance of nonviolence and believed that individuals could bring about change through peaceful means. He believed that African Americans deserved equal access to education, employment, and housing, and that these rights were essential for achieving full citizenship. Carmichael

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