African American History

•ASSIGNMENT Primary Sources of information are those that provide first-hand accounts of the events, practices, or conditions you are researching. In general, these are documents that were created by the witnesses or first recorders of these events at about the time they occurred, and include diaries, letters, reports, photographs, creative works, financial records, memos, and newspaper articles. Primary Sources form the base that supports historians’ reconstructions of the past. To use primary sources with confidence, historians need to be alert to potential causes of bias, distortion, and inaccuracy in the sources. This assignment will give you practice in ways to identify such causes.

GUIDING QUESTIONS In your essay, you MUST address the following sets of question. If you do not completely answer the questions in essay format, you have not correctly completed the assignment.

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1. Who wrote the document, and for whom was it written? What does this suggest about the point of view reflected in the document?

2. Why was the document written, and what form does it have? A document’s purpose and form (e.g. legal opinion, prohibition, instruction manual) will affect the sorts of material it contains and might cause a systematic bias.

3. How do author, audience, purpose, and form relate to the event or phenomenon that the document describes? Was the author in a position to have reliable knowledge of the event or phenomenon? Does the form permit accurate reporting? Does the author have any reason to avoid telling the truth as he or she saw it?

4. In conclusion, how reliable do you think this document is? What other kinds of documents would you want to examine to corroborate its claims? Your paper should not be a simply a list of answers to individual questions, but a coherent essay with an introduction and conclusion.

PRIMARY SOURCES You must choose from the following approved primary sources related to African American history:

Louisiana’s Code Noir (1724) Earliest regulations on the North American continent that governed slaves and free blacks.

United States v. The Amistad (1841). Supreme Court rules that Africans on board the ship The Amistad were free individuals; kidnapped and transported illegally; they had never been slaves.

The Fugitive Slave Act (1850). Gave power to slave catchers and law enforcement officials in capturing fugitive slaves.

Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857). Supreme Court rules that enslaved people are property protected by law in every state, that the enslaved are not entitled to use the courts, and that enslaved people and their descendants can never be citizens.

The Emancipation Proclamation (1863). Issued on January 1, 1863, freed all enslaved people in the Confederate States or portions of those states that were not then controlled by Union forces

General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15 (1865). This measure gave more than 400,000 acres of coastal land to formerly enslaved people.

The Slaughter House Cases (1873). Supreme Court narrows scope of the 14th Amendment in regard to state actions.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). “Separate but Equal” Supreme Court decision.

Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill (1922). This bill proposed to make lynching a federal felony in the United States.

Pearson v. Murray (1935). Maryland State Supreme Court decision ruled against segregation at the University of Maryland law school.

Executive Order 9981 (1948). This order by President Harry S. Truman desegregates the U.S. Armed Forces.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954). This unanimous Supreme Court decision declared unconstitutional all school segregation mandated by state law.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963). This is the famous letter that Dr. Martin Luther King wrote while in custody in Birmingham following his arrest for leading civil disobedience demonstrations.

Testimony of Fannie Lou Hamer before the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention (1964). This testimony by Hamer exposed the hazards of trying to vote in Mississippi.

The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, The Moynihan Report, (1965). This is the famous Moynihan Report which describes the rise of female-headed households among African Americans and its implication for the nation.

Loving v. Virginia (1967).The U.S. Supreme Court outlaws all state laws banning interracial marriage.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission Report on Voting Irregularities in the 2000 Election in Florida. (2000) This report examines allegations of voter fraud and intimidation in the closely contested Presidential race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George. W. Bush.


· Minimum three full pages typed in Times New Roman 12-pt font, double-spaced with 1” margins, aligned left or justified.

The Works Cited page is not included in the assigned page length.

· Chicago or Turabian style format and documentation for parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page.

· Minimum of two (2) peer-reviewed secondary sources in addition to assigned primary source/s – therefore, there should be AT LEAST THREE ITEMS on your Works Cited age

· Utilize library databases to locate appropriate sources.

· See attached rubric for details about how your essay will be graded

· Please submit this assignment via Blackboard WITHOUT YOUR NAME ON THE PAPER by the assignment deadline

You MUST answer all of the guiding questions that are listed on the assignment sheet, if you do not you have not completed the assignment and will not receive a good grade.

•Make sure that you are making an analysis of the primary source and not either of the secondary sources. In other words, if you are writing about the Emancipation Proclamation, you must answer the guiding questions about the actual document that Lincoln wrote, not the books or articles about the document.

• Your bibliography must include the actual primary source as well as two peer reviewed secondary sources related to the primary source. In other words, you need a minimum of three items on your bibliography. The format for the primary sources assignment MUST be either Chicago or Turabian. If you are not sure how to format your paper like this, there are excellent resources available on the CCBC Library site. Also, your textbook is an excellent secondary source in addition to the databases on the CCBC Library site.

• Do NOT use Wikipedia or any other wiki as secondary sources. Also, do NOT use any “.com” sources for a research paper. Acceptable internet sources include “.edu,” “.gov,” or “.org.”

• You MUST include citations in your paper, otherwise it is considered plagiarized. You may use in-text citations in adherence to the format that you utillize.

• Do not insert yourself into the paper. No statements such as “I think…” or “It seems to me…”, the paper should be entirely third person and as objective as possible. Also, do not use first names in a research paper. If you are referring to Harriet Tubman, use Tubman in the paper not Harriet.

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