Please try to find some time to watch this before next Tuesday's class, it is the most famous pro-segrgation ever made. It celebrates the birth of the Ku Klux Klan, the most famous white supremacy group.
Sojourner Truth. Read her Biography to find out what this escaped slave's real name was.
As you think about these documents:
Notice that we're moving and mashing up the conditions of women and African-Americans in the 19th century. Sojourner Truth helps us with the crossover. As you read her very short document, you will
1. Hear echoes of some of the women's rights documents we read last week. There will be also some of the same
regarding echoes of what we saw in the video "half the people". I want you to put a star or a sticky note or
something which reminds you of these or other documents we've read in this class. Note what she thinks is
going to happen: the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. What is the "racket" about which she speaks?
Is she right about this, did she have a crystal ball?
Regarding Frederick Douglass, you'll have already seen that he was at the Seneca Falls Convention, along with quite a few other men. As I said last Tuesday, there were male feminists back in the early 19th century. Here, Douglass is speaking at an Independence Day celebration, in Rochester, New York, which was a hot bed of abolition sentiments. When you read and mark up this document.
1. Douglass begins by asking, Fellow citizens, pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak
here today? He then follows with a series of questions, each of which he answers "no". What are the reasons
he gives for celebrating "Independence Day"? Which reason seems to be the most important. Use some
markup tool to indicate which. Why do you think so?
2. Recognize he's not talking about himself here. He purchased his freedom in 1847. With whom is he
identifying. What might that suggest about the nature of his audience and its view on slavery?
3. On p. 4, he argues: "For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We
need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the
conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the
nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced." Think of this in its context
and take a guess what event he may be forecasting. Mark this on the document whatever way you wish.
4. Lastly, in the light of today, what do you think concerning his final paragraph: "Go search where you will,
roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search
out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this
nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns
without a rival." Granted that things are better, are there still things upon which we need to work? Write
a closing statement about this.
Regarding Plessy v. Fergysson
1 . Note that the reading from the text has two distinct parts. In the first, the majority opinion of the court is given, and it was this which established the context for determining the constitutionality of segregation laws
for the next fifty years and more.
The second part, the dissent by Justice John Marshall Harlan, bore no force of law at the time it was written. Make sure you keep these two parts of the text separate in your own mind.
Justice Harlan responds directly to a number of the assertions made by Justice Brown. You might want to this by
a color marking system, or just refer to previous sticky notes. As you mark the document up, try to relate the
arguments and counter-arguments to each other.
Pay some particular consideration to the way Harlan responds to this assertion in the majority opinion, “We
consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced
separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of
anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”(p. 7).
Find the Harlan Response to this and make sure it is easy to find when we have occasion to refer to it in class.
We’ll consider it in detail . Which argument do you find more convincing, and why? Use a sticky note to the one
We won’t need to spend a lot of time on Brown v. Board of Education, which celebrated its Sixtieth anniversary in 2014. Our primary objective is to see what the court’s reasoning is. Earl Warren, the author of the Opinion, reverses the decision of the court in the case Plessy v. Ferguson, which had stood for nearly 60 years. The Supreme court rarely reverses a decision. This is one of those rare times.when the court declares that a previous court got it wrong.
Do you hear echoes from a document we recently read?
Look for evidence that the court is now relying on science (particularly the social sciences) in coming to a decision
Reflect on these in your sticky notes.
The segregated southern states largely ignored the Warren Court Decision. The saying was "How many troops does the Supreme Court have? People began to take matters in their own hands. Governor Wallace of Alabama gave the speech below on the steps of the Capitol in Birmingham. It was protesters, largely your age which started the Freedom Rides. And then came along the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King. I hope to have a little time to show you a bit of about the Freedom Riders. Next week we'll meet MLK.