Writing Assignment: Completing the Revolution

I am Not Your Negro:
Read the information below and watch the film using the link provided.

About the film:
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his new endeavor: the writing of his final book, Remember This House, recounting the lives and successive assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin was not able to complete the book before his death, and the unfinished manuscript was entrusted to director Raoul Peck by the writer’s estate.

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Built exclusively around Baldwin’s words, Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro delves into the complex legacy of three lives (and deaths) that permanently marked the American social and political landscape. Framing the unfinished work as a radical narration about race in America, Peck matches Baldwin’s lyrical rhetoric with rich archival footage of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and connects these historical struggles for justice and equality to the present-day movements that have taken shape in response to the killings of young African-American men including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, and Amir Brooks.

Exploring what it means to be Black in America today, Peck reflects on the legacy of racial violence that still permeates the country. In Baldwin’s words, “You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourselves. And furthermore, you give me a terrifying advantage: you never had to look at me; I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me. Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” By revealing the deep connections between past and present injustice, I Am Not Your Negro weaves an epic narrative about America’s irrational relationship with skin color – a relationship that would be absurd were it not so tragic.

The film: I am Not Your Negro (On Netflix)

Write a four-double spaced (1000 Words) page analytical or argumentative essay, using 12-inch font, with a title page (which does not count for your total page number). Please use Chicago style. The paper must contain at least TWO outside journal articles that deal with one of the topics you will write about. Your essay must use citations and must have a bibliography. Please make sure to proofread your essay. You can also contact the FIU history department and/or the writing center for assistance.

You must also have a clear thesis statement. Choose only ONE topic to address from group A and you must answer the question in Group B.

1.Group A. Select only ONE from this area
Use examples from the film, information from your texts and journal articles to address the prompts.

-Discuss the origins of the Civil Rights movement. Include a chronology of the major events.
-Discuss the role of the media and it’s impact on the Civil Rights movement.
-Compare and contrast two of the Civil Rights Leaders discussed in the film. Include a third not in the film and compare and contrast them to the two you selected.
-In the film, Baldwin argues that any conversation about the ‘Negro in America’ is really simply a conversation about America, and that attempting to silo race not only hinders us from improving race relations, but also undermines growth for our society as a whole. How does this theory relate to the contemporary conversation about race in America?
-What does it mean to be a witness? How is the role of witness in history different from the roles of others – such as perpetrators, victims, bystanders or allies? What are the responsibilities of a witness, and why is it important that there be witnesses?
2.Group B
What is the legacy of segregation and Jim Crow in our culture? How do these historical institutions affect contemporary society?

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