A Critique of The Civil Rights Project

by: Paul Schulte
Arizona Educational Consultants

Dear George,

I compliment you and your students on your web efforts. Although I have not read all of the submissions, I have read at least 2/3s of them and your Civil Rights Power Point presentation. I have taken all of your qualifiers into account. I have some general and some specific comments.

1. Slavery in this country does not start in 1619. The blacks brought to Jamestown by the Dutch man of war were indentured servants. Slavery is not encoded in Virginia until 1660. The indentures were extended and then made permanent, but technically, there is no slavery. The modern Civil Rights movement started before Brown. Adam Clayton Powell was integrating New York City lunch counters before then.

2. Many of the students relied on employment and crime statistics from 1989. Those figures are usually available yearly for crime and monthly for unemployment. More current statistics were key to the essay's intent, which was Is the Dream Alive Today? Current statistics show that blacks and whites are earning equal amounts in many areas. Black professors in comparative positions are making more than their white counterparts!

3. One of the students did not understand a quote by Spike Lee. This is always a problem with students. They got what they thought was right, but it really speaks to another issue. Lee's quote deals with the problem of shades of color used by blacks to discriminate against themselves. The lighter (brighter) you are, the less black you are, the less authority you have. Lee's comment was based on this, which was the result of a movie he did on the subject _School Daze_, 1988.

4. Some of your students are painting with a rather broad brush. They go from the specific to the general, without making the real logical connection. One or more has all police as racist, all whites as racist. One needs to read more about the Native Americans in this country. I realize this is a government class, but it is sad to see the amount of ignorance they have of American history.

5. One says that no one knows who killed Malcolm X, and another avoids the issue. At least four members of the Nation of Islam were identified as the culprits and convicted. Malcolm's daughter was caught in a trap while trying to buy the murder of Farrakhan, who she thought had a part in his assassination.

6. The Bobby Kennedy article avoids the fact that the Kennedys tried hard to hold back the Civil Rights movement.

7. Most people forget that MLK was dragged kicking and screaming into the movement and he spent less time marching then anyone else. He would start the march and end the march, but he wasn't marching in-between (he was off meeting with other people during this period). This is not to overlook the time he spent in jail, etc.

8. There are very positive images in films of blacks. Most high school students would not go to see these films though.:) Those images have been there historically. Not all images of blacks, Asians, Hispanics, whites, males, females, etc have been positive. Still, the images today are very positive for the most part. The films the student complains of were made by blacks. They picked the images, the stereotypes, if there are any. This complaint reminds me of the complaints made by Italian-Americans about all images in the films of IA were of Mafia. An Italian anti-defamation league was started. The head of it was later convicted of racketeering (and, if I remember correctly, gunned down by Mafia thugs).

9. The one on the middle passage was interesting. There was an attempt at fairness, however, the facts were still a little skewed. One in four slaves remained in Africa, with a ratio of 2 women to every man. Coming to the Americas the ratio was just the opposite, 2 men to every woman. The African slave trade had been going on long before America was found. The African slavers were not traitors to their own race, they were businessmen who dealt in slaves. They demanded a large price for those slaves and got it. Those same people enslaved American seamen when they capture them. The United States paid a high price to get them back. Not all African women were African Queens.:) Slavery in Africa is STILL a major issue. There is major slavery going on in two African countries as well as India, China, Thailand, etc.

I want to restate that I think the effort is laudable. It is clear that some went to efforts beyond the Pale. I would be curious as to how you graded these efforts. What criteria did you use for grading? Thanks for sharing these with us.

Paul Schulte
Arizona Educational Consultants

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