Some of us–maybe all of us–ran into trouble trying to read Brent Staples’s editorials from the Pulitzer Foundation web page. Accessing them in this way requires a subscription to Staples’s newspaper, The New York Times. Since I have a subscription, I have copied the URL’s from behind the NYT’s paywall. Let’s see if these work:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/opinion/american-lynchings-memorial.html (Links to an external site.)
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/09/opinion/monuments-white-supremacy-tennessee.html (Links to an external site.)
These two articles may be used for a synthesize option for Paper Two, in which you look at the evolution of who and what is memorialized in this country, and how. As you’ll see, monuments of men on horseback are pretty out of fashion. Memorials now are abstract. How do we “read” the symbols of the National Memorial to Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, to understand what it is saying?
Otherwise, today the Orange Team and I designed these four additional options for our Paper Two:
1. A compare and contrast option. Both Nikole Hannah-Jones and Brent Staples write about Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia. They make some similar points, but their positions are not identical. How can we describe their similarities and differences? More importantly, what can we conclude from them?
2. An argue option. Taking Monticello as an example, how should we understand our past? Monticello, at least for many of the people who built it, was a “forced labor camp,” as Hannah-Jones says. But it is also the home designed and lived in by Thomas Jefferson, who was, to be sure, the owner of slaves. But he was also the writer of the Declaration of Independence, a framer of the U.S. Constitution, and the third president of the United States. The great writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once stated that “genius is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in your mind at the same time.” Can we Americans do that? How can we learn how to do that?
3. a compare and contrast/apply option. This year marks the centennial of the passage of the 19th amendment to the constitution; the 19th amendment extended voting rights to women. In one of his editorials, Brent Staples shows how many leaders of the women’s movement, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, were racists and saw Black Americans as competitors–if only one marginalized group at a time was going to get the vote, it seems, they were determined that (white) women would come before people of color. To my mind, this history raises a really interesting question about competition and collaboration. Frederick Douglass was willing to work with women, but they were not interested in working with him. How should we understand this aspect of our past?
4. An analyze option. As a student and teacher of writing, I personally admire the writing craft of Nikole Hannah-Jones. She makes many interesting (and, to my mind, effective) decisions in what and how to make her points. If we analyze it–if we break it down to see how it works–there’s a lot we can learn and apply to our own writing from her.
Paper Two is due during class time on Friday of next week, September 18th.