Wednesday, March 21, 2007



Sitkoff paints a pretty gloomy picture of the status of African Americans in 1990, 25 years after the major gains of the Civil Rights Movement. While there were surely distinct gains during that period, there were also some ominous signs of stagnation and even of decline. In every region, at every educational level, and in every occupation, African-Americans had a lower median income than did whites; “a third of African-Americans, and half of all black children, [were] living below the poverty level;” (p. 226); over half of African American families were headed by a single female; African-Americans had a higher rate of infant mortality than some third world countries, and almost half the prison population in the U.S. was African-American. (Sitkoff, p. 227). Even a cursory glance at the 2000 census reveals even further decline

Throughout the past week and a half we have been looking at policies and actions that have wrought significant change. Your assignment is to take what you have learned through our study and apply it to one of the problems faced by African-Americans today. Begin by re-reading Sitkoff, pp. 224-228) and look for an issue that seems to you especially pressing. Then do some research to discover the current issue you've identified, and what steps are being taken to address it. Then, working singly or in groups, come up with a plan for change. You may draw on any of the strategies we’ve encountered in our reading; you may work inside or outside government; you may surely invent your own strategies. Your goal is to write a Manifesto for Change. It will contain a statement of the problem; your goalA; a carefully constructed strategy for accomplishing it; and an underlying argument for why you think your strategy will work.

You should come to class on Thursday ready to present your Manifesto (in preliminary form) to our group. The culminating exercise for this Seminar will be a written Manifesto due on Tuesday, 3/27.

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