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African American Studies Discussion Questions

Answer all ten questions with at least 4-5 sentences.

1)  Consider how challenging it was for African Americans to exercise the right to vote.  Discuss the following:

- Do African Americans of today's generation truly understand the sacrifices made for them to have the right to vote, and do they value that right.

- What would you say to an African American who believes that there is no point in voting because the system simply doesn't work.

- If you could visit heaven (or whatever you believe to be the afterlife), what would you say to the following individuals regarding the right to vote?

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    President John F. Kennedy

    President Lyndon B. Johnson

2)  Discuss whether or not government intelligence agencies did too much or if they were justified in their surveillance of Civil Rights leaders.  Can any comparisons be made between their actions back then and today's surveillance of terrorist or suspected terrorists?

3)  Discussion your thoughts on ONE of the following quotes:

"You don't have to maintain your sanity if you think that any day you might get killed"

"the knowledge that slavery had torn apart Black families for centuries"

"children who misbehave at school no longer fear their mothers will be called"

"parents no longer eat dinner with their children every night"

4) Consider the activities of Richard Aoki.  In your opinion - was he an asset or enemy to society?  Discuss your reasoning in detail.

5)  Consider African American films and television sit-coms.  Identify the films or shows that had the most positive impact and the ones that had the most detrimental impact on the perception of African American culture.  Focus your discussion on the influence on school-aged children.

6)  Explain whether you agree or disagree with Cornell West's comparison of Civil Rights leaders from the past and present.  Please support your stance with specific examples.

7)  Discuss whether or not you believe that the "ends justify the means" as it pertains to the "abuse" of military prisoners to acquire vital military intelligence.  Do you believe that the violation of the civil rights of a military prisoner can be justly compared to the violation of the civil rights of African American civilians residing in the U.S.  Please explain you answer in detail.

8)  Explain the difference between civil rights and civil liberties.

9)  Consider the number of African American politicians who have had reason for their integrity to be called into question.  Are they corrupt politicians, or are they just over-scrutinized because they are African Americans.  Please support your position with specific details

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