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HIS 200 Module Five Short Response Guidelines and Rubric

Overview: The short response activities in the webtext throughout this course are designed to show your understanding of key concepts as you engage with course content.

Prompt: During the fifth week of the course, you will respond to several questions in the webtext as you complete each learning block. At the end of Module Five, you will review your answers to these questions and ensure that you have responded to each question. It is important that you answer each question, otherwise, the words “[no response]” will appear in brackets when you submit the assignment. The questions and their original locations in the webtext are listed in this table in case you want to refer back to the reading as you edit, but you can edit your responses to all the questions directly in Module Five: Analyzing History, learning block 5-4 (page 5) in the webtext, before exporting to Word for submission to your instructor in the learning environment.

Module Five: Analyzing History, Learning Block 5-1 (page 1):

· Question 1: In the space below, specify which historical lens you would like to use for this exercise.
· Question 2: Next, formulate a research question about the civil rights movement (historical time from 1954–1968), using the lens you have chosen.

Module Five: Analyzing History, Learning Block 5-1 (page 2):

· Question 3: First, go back and review the research question you developed in Step 1. For Step 2, first name two different primary sources that you might use to answer that question. Be as specific as you can. Your primary sources should be found using the Shapiro Library.

· Question 4: Next, name two different secondary sources you could use to answer your research question. Again, be as specific as you can. Your secondary sources should be found using the Shapiro Library.

Module Five: Analyzing History, Learning Block 5-1 (page 3):

· Question 5: Construct a thesis statement that provides an answer to the research question you posed in Step 1. Base your response on the historical evidence that has been presented in this course so far, as well as any research you may have done on your own.

Module Five: Analyzing History, Learning Block 5-3 (pages 2–3):

· Question 6: Name three specific historical events that can be considered contributory causes of the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Briefly explain why you believe each of these events contributed to the passage of the Act.

· Question 7: Based on what you read about the passage of the Voting Rights Act on page 1 of this learning block, name one event that was part of the course of this bill’s passage by Congress.

· Question 8: Name three specific consequences caused by the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

· Question 9: One of these scholars relied heavily on evidence about the substance of today’s political debate. Which scholar was that? What sort of evidence did he use?

· Question 10: One of these scholars relied heavily on evidence about the political process. Which scholar was that? What sort of evidence did he use?

Module Five: Analyzing History, Learning Block 5-4 (page 5):  Question 11:
1. What is the topic of this essay? Does the author make it clear in the introduction?
2. What is the author’s thesis?
3. What kind of sources and evidence do you think the author will use to support his thesis?


Guidelines for Submission: Your response to Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 should be 1–2 sentences in length. Your response to Questions 9, 10, and 11 should be 2–3 sentences in length. Follow the instructions at the bottom of Module Five: Analyzing History, learning block 5-4 (page 5) in the webtext, to download your work and submit it to your instructor as a single Microsoft Word document uploaded to the learning environment. Refer to the
Submitting Webtext Assignments


for assistance on downloading, saving, and submitting this assignment.

Critical Elements



Needs Improvement

Not Evident



Written responses completely address all short answer
prompts (100%)

Written responses completely address the majority of short
answer prompts (85%)

Written responses address the minority of short answer
prompts (55%)

No written responses provided to address any short answer
prompts (0%)



Written responses directly address short answer prompts, drawing from presented course concepts and terminology

Written responses are topically related to short answer prompts, but responses do not consistently draw from presented course concepts and terminology

Written responses do not address topics identified in short answer prompts



Written responses are completely accurate (100%)

Written responses contain minor errors but are mostly accurate (85%)

Written responses contain major errors (55%)

No written responses are provided (0%)


Critical Thinking

Written responses demonstrate understanding of course content through inclusion of original ideas and examples

Written responses demonstrate understanding of course content through reiteration of provided materials, but do not consistently include original
ideas and examples

Written responses do not
reflect original ideas and


Critical Elements



Needs Improvement

Not Evident


Articulation of Response

Written responses are captured in complete sentences without grammatical errors impacting legibility and the clarity of
response (100%)

Written responses are captured in incomplete sentences or include numerous grammatical errors that negatively impact
legibility and the clarity of
response (85%)

No written responses are captured in complete sentences (0%)




(Click icon for citation) 

Theme: Analyzing History


When it’s done right, an historical essay can read like a mystery novel. Trying to figure out what really
happened  in  the  distant  past  requires  us  to  search  for  clues  (primary  sources)  and  listen  to  expert
witnesses (secondary sources). But in the end, all that historical evidence doesn’t speak for itself; it’s up
to the historian to make sense of things.

That’s what we mean by historical analysis.

In  Theme:  Analyzing  History,  we’ll  see  how
historians sift and assess the evidence to come up
with—and then refine—their thesis statement and
message.  Because  historical  research  is  an
ongoing  process,  so  too  is  the  process  of  thesis
development.  In  Theme:  Analyzing  History,
you’ll  have  an  opportunity  to  revise  your  thesis
statement  to  reflect  research  you’ve  conducted
since turning in your writing plan.

The thesis, of course, is just the jumping­off point
for  the  historical  essay  you’re  working  on
throughout  this  course.  Like  a  good  mystery
novelist, you’ve also got to give your readers the
lay  of  the  land,  with  an  overview  that  provides
them with background information and relevant historical context.

Another important part of the historian’s job is showing how different historical forces and events relate
to  each  other.  In  this  theme,  we’ll  explore  the  historical  concept  of  contingency,  which  stresses  the
interconnectedness of historical events and the difficulty of predicting future outcomes.

Finally,  you  need  to  show  how  the  evidence  supports  your  thesis.  That’s  the  essence  of  historical
analysis: choosing the most compelling evidence and interpreting it in the most convincing way, to build
the strongest possible argument for your  thesis.  In  this  theme, you’ll see how historians construct an
analysis and begin the process of building one yourself.

Course Outcome

After completing this theme, you should be able to:

Utilize historical evidence in drawing conclusions about the impact of historic events on American

Copyright © 2017 MindEdge Inc. All rights reserved. Duplication prohibited.

(Click icon for citation) 

Theme: Analyzing History | Learning Block 5-1: The Struggle for Civil

The Struggle for Civil Rights

From the earliest colonial days, American history has been haunted by the specter of African slavery.
Even after its legal abolition in 1865 America’s “original sin,” as James Madison first called it, lived on
through  a  deeply  entrenched  system  of  legal,  social,  and  economic  discrimination  against  African
Americans. (Madison, 1820)

The  movement  to  overturn  that  systemic  discrimination  has  been
ongoing  for  more  than  150  years.  The  most  blatant  form  of  racial
discrimination—the  system  of  de  jure  segregation  enacted  in  the
South, which legally required the discriminatory treatment of African
Americans—was essentially abolished by federal legislation, including
the  Voting  Rights  Act,  in  the  1960s.  But  the  problem  of  de  facto
segregation  has  long  been  a  fact  of  life  not  only  in  the  South  but
throughout the nation.

It continued—in the segregated schools of cities such as Boston, and
the  segregated  housing  markets  of  cities  such  as  Chicago  and  Los
Angeles—long after the legal and political battles of the modern Civil
Rights Movement had ended. While African Americans, as a group,
have made significant gains in income and educational attainment over
the last 50 years, de facto segregation continues to affect many aspects
of  American  life.  (U.S.  Census  Bureau,  2012;  National  Center  for
Education Statistics, 2012)

In this theme, we will focus on the modern Civil Rights Movement,
looking at efforts to affirm and expand African­American rights in two specific areas that have been
central  to  the  overall  civil  rights  struggle:  voting  and  public  education.  The  fight  to  end  the
disenfranchisement of African­American voters and secure their right to vote, free from intimidation and
legal  obstruction,  culminated  with  the  passage  of  the  Voting  Rights  Act  in  1965.  The  struggle  to
desegregate public schools and win equal educational opportunities for African­American children—first
affirmed in the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954)—has continued for
generations. In this theme, we will look specifically at the tumultuous and emotionally charged effort to
desegregate Boston’s public schools in the mid­1970s.

We will use these two case studies to examine the historical concept of contingency and to learn how to
use historical evidence to draw conclusions about the impact of historical events on American society,
through the process of historical analysis.

Learning Objectives

In this learning block, you will:

Review the historical context behind the struggle for civil rights for African Americans, the core
concept of this theme
Analyze the relationship between the following key approaches to studying history: research
question, historical evidence, and thesis statement

The house in Atlanta where Martin
Luther King Jr. was born is now part
of the Martin Luther King Jr. National
Historic Site. (Click icon for citation) 


Madison,  J.  (1820).  Letter  to  the  Marquis  de  Lafayette,  November  25,  1820.  Retrieved  from

National Center for Education Statistics (2012). Fast Facts: Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race. Retrieved from

U.S.  Census  Bureau  (2012).  American  Community  Survey.  Retrieved  from­american­income/

The Early Struggle for Civil Rights

The end of the Civil War brought the legal abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment, the first of the
three so­called Civil War Amendments. But the end of slavery did not bring equality for the former slaves.

While the southern states had to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment as a condition of their readmission to
the Union, most of them quickly enacted laws to close off opportunities to the newly freed slaves and
deny them the rights of citizenship. The postwar Black Codes—based on older southern laws that sought
to limit the freedoms of freed blacks in the years before the Civil War—barred African Americans from
voting, denied them most legal rights, and restricted their ability to find work outside of plantations.
Such laws laid the groundwork for the later Jim Crow laws, which institutionalized segregation in all
walks of life throughout the South. (Dunning, 1907)

In response to the Black Codes, Congress passed the Civil Rights
Act of 1866, which formally made African Americans citizens.
To  further  safeguard  the  citizenship  rights  of  the  freed  slaves,
Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified
in  1868.  The  Reconstruction  Acts,  passed  in  1867  and  1868,
essentially  placed  the  southern  states  under  military  rule  for  a
decade,  allowing  for  a  brief  period  in  which  freed  African
Americans in the South enjoyed political rights.

The  profound  significance  of  the  Fourteenth  Amendment  was
that,  through  its  Equal  Protection  and  Due  Process  clauses,  it
prohibited  the  states  from  abridging  the  rights  and  liberties
guaranteed  to  all  citizens  under  the  Constitution.  In  reality,
however,  for  African  Americans  through  the  end  of  the  19th
century (and well beyond), the promise of equal protection and
due  process  went  unrealized.  The  southern  states  flouted  the
Fourteenth  Amendment,  and  the  Supreme  Court  refused  to
interpret  it  as  making  the  Bill  of  Rights  binding  on  the  states.
(Foner, 1988)

The  Black  Codes  also  led  Congress  to  pass  the  Fifteenth
Amendment  (ratified  in  1870),  which  guaranteed  African
Americans the right to vote. It did so by decreeing that citizens’
right to vote could not be denied or abridged based on race, color,

or prior slave status. Despite the Fifteenth Amendment, southern states continued to deprive blacks of
their voting rights by imposing voter­qualification restrictions (e.g., literacy tests and property­ownership
requirements) that effectively disenfranchised African Americans. (Valelly, 2009)

The Fifteenth Amendment divided the pioneering women’s rights movement, which sought the franchise
for women as well as for African Americans. As we saw in Theme: Communicating Historical Ideas,

“Colored” water cooler in streetcar terminal,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1939. (Click icon for


A poll tax receipt. Image courtesy of the
African American Intellectual History


some leaders in the nascent woman suffrage movement opposed ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment
because it did not also extend the voting right to women. Women did not gain the right to vote until
ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

Jim Crow Laws and the Segregated South

Unyielding  southern  resistance  to  black  equality  led  Congress  to  pass  the  Civil  Rights  Act  of  1875,
which  prohibited  racial  segregation  in  public  accommodations  such  as  hotels,  restaurants,  and
transportation. It also barred the exclusion of African Americans from jury service. But when the federal
government ended its military occupation of the South in 1877, marking the end of Reconstruction, the
southern states further defied federal efforts to guarantee the civil rights of blacks. (Foner, 1988)

Southern  state  legislatures  enacted  Jim  Crow  laws,
which  discriminated  against  African  Americans  by
requiring  racial  segregation  of  schools,  restaurants,
hotels,  theaters,  and  other  public  accommodations.
Under  Jim  Crow  laws,  the  southern  states  created
separate facilities for whites and blacks in every walk
of  life,  covering  all  public  accommodations.  This
institutionalization of race­based separation throughout
the South, which endured for a hundred years after the
Civil War, was known as de jure segregation because
it was backed by law.

After  Reconstruction,  African  Americans  throughout
the  South  faced  state  legal  systems  that  denied  them
equal  justice  and  routinely  violated  their  due­process
rights.  The  courts  and  law  enforcement  in  the  South  abided  lynching  and  other  white  mob  violence
committed against blacks. And the federal courts, well into the 1900s, proved unwilling or unable to
uphold the civil rights of blacks. (Equal Justice Initiative, 2015)

Disenfranchisement Despite the Fifteenth Amendment

After  Reconstruction,  the  southern  states  devised  obstacles  to  block  African  Americans  from  voting
despite the Fifteenth Amendment, which decreed that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of
race or color. To circumvent the Fifteenth Amendment’s  intent, southern states employed devices for
determining  voter  eligibility  which,  though  not  expressly  racial,  had  the  particular  effect  of
disenfranchising blacks, who were overwhelmingly poor and uneducated.

These devices included literacy tests, poll taxes (a tax paid
as  a  qualification  for  voting),  and  property­ownership
requirements. Many states in the South also imposed a so­
called grandfather clause, which restricted voting to those
whose  grandfathers  had  voted  before  Reconstruction  (i.e.,
pre  1867).  Grandfather  clauses  effectively  denied  the
descendants of slaves the right to vote. (Valelly, 2009) All
of these legally enacted devices represented forms of de jure
segregation—as  opposed  to  de  facto  segregation,  which
lacked the force of law.

Black disenfranchisement continued in one form or another throughout the South for a century after the
Civil War.

W.E.B. Du Bois, 1918.
(Click icon for citation) 

Separate but Equal

Legal segregation in the South was validated by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision at the close of
the 1800s. Homer Plessy, an African American, defied a Louisiana segregation law by riding in a “whites
only” railroad car. He was arrested when he refused to move to a car reserved for blacks as mandated by
the state law. Plessy challenged the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that segregation violated
the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Supreme Court rejected this challenge, ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that state laws requiring
racial  segregation  in  public  facilities  are  constitutional  if  the  facilities  are  “separate  but  equal.”  The
Court’s decision ignored the fact that most facilities available to African Americans were not equal but
vastly inferior; nonetheless, Plessy and the doctrine of “separate but equal” remained the law of the land
for more than half a century. (Medley, 2003)


Dunning, W. (1907). Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 1865­1877. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Equal  Justice  Initiative  (2015).  Lynching  in  America:  Confronting  the  Legacy  of  Racial  Terror.  Retrieved  from

Foner, E. (1988). Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863­1877. New York: Harper & Row.

Medley, K. (2003). We as Freemen: Plessy v. Ferguson: The Fight Against Legal Segregation. Gretna, LA: Pelican

Valelly, R. (2009). The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement. Chicago, IL: University of
Chicago Press.

U.S.  Census  Bureau  (2012).  American  Community  Survey.  Retrieved  from­american­income

The Struggle for Civil Rights, 1900 – 1950

The first half of the 20th century saw limited progress in the fight to secure the civil rights of African
Americans.  Booker  T.  Washington,  president  of  the  Tuskegee  Institute  and  the  leading  figure  in  the
African­American community in the early 1900s, was an outspoken proponent of black education and
entrepreneurship.  But  Washington  was  criticized  within  the  African­American  community  for  his
strategic decision not to challenge Jim Crow laws and the disenfranchisement of black voters directly.

More militant African­American leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois and Ida
Wells,  founded  the  National  Association  for  the  Advancement  of  Colored
People (NAACP) in 1909, with the mission of actively fighting against racial
prejudice. The organization focused in  its early years  largely on efforts  to
prevent  lynchings  in  the  South  and  on  mounting  legal  challenges  to  Jim
Crow legislation. (Finch, 1981)

The  return  of  thousands  of  African­American  veterans  of  World  War  I
highlighted  the  huge  divide  between  America’s  rhetorical  commitment  to
democracy  and  individual  freedom  and  the  reality  of  segregation,
disenfranchisement, and anti­black violence in the South. This gave rise to
the New Negro movement, which sparked the larger cultural and intellectual
movement known as the Harlem Renaissance (Gates, H.L., 1988)

The Lafayette Theatre, Harlem, 1936. (Click
icon for citation) 

Beginning shortly before World War I, the Great Migration
saw an estimated six million African Americans move from
the deep South to  the North, Midwest, and West over  the
next  60  years.  Fleeing  segregation  and  poverty,  many  of
these  African  Americans  found  work  in  industrial  cities
such  as  Chicago,  Detroit,  and  Gary,  Indiana.  While  many
African  Americans  had  previously  been  suspicious  of
organized  labor,  A.  Philip  Randolph,  head  of  the
Brotherhood  of  Sleeping  Car  Porters,  became  the  leading
voice for black workers within the labor movement. As the
number  of  African  Americans  working  in  industrial  jobs
swelled, organized labor became increasingly outspoken in
its  advocacy  for  black  workers’  rights;  in  the  1950s  and
1960s,  labor  would  be  a  powerful  ally  of  the  civil  rights
movement. (Lemann, 1992)

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit African Americans disproportionally hard; the collapse of cotton
prices drove thousands of Southern sharecroppers to the brink (Thompson and Clarke, 1935), and the
scarcity of factory jobs led to increased racial tensions in Northern industrial cities. The unemployment
rate among African Americans was estimated to exceed 50 percent—more than twice the rate among
whites. (Wolters, 1970)

African Americans, traditionally supporters of the Republican Party because of its historical opposition
to slavery, were initially skeptical of Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, who had won the Presidency with
strong backing from the South. Early New Deal programs were not aimed toward the African­American
community, and some, such as the Federal Housing Authority, initially reinforced existing patterns of
segregation.  But  other  programs,  such  as  the  Works  Progress  Administration  and  the  Civilian
Conservation Corps, provided jobs to substantial numbers of African Americans, especially in the North.
By the end of the decade, many African Americans in the North were strongly behind the New Deal, and
urban  black  voters  began  a  major  shift  that  would  eventually  make  them  an  integral  part  of  the
Democratic electoral coalition. (Reed, 2008)

America’s entry into World War II effectively ended the Depression, as factories geared up for the war
effort. At the same, time, more than a million African Americans joined the armed forces; when they
returned from war in 1945, they embodied the argument that African Americans were entitled to the
same freedoms for which America had fought in Europe and the Pacific. (Taylor, 2014)

While resistance to the campaign for African­American civil rights was still deeply entrenched, the late
1940s saw a couple of notable victories: Jackie Robinson famously broke baseball’s “Color Line”  in
1947,  and  in  1948,  President  Harry  S  …

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