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AP US History DBQ example 3

Kim analyzes the last of the documents, identifies themes, and writes a thesis statement.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] This is the third in a series of videos about answering the document based question, or DBQ on the AP U.S. History Exam. In the last video, we started taking a look at and analyzing some of the primary documents provided for this exam. So the first one was a folk saying about how the boll weevil and sharecropping had taken away African-American's crops and homes in the South. The second was a letter from a black man living in New Orleans asking the black newspaper The Chicago Defender, to help in finding him a house and a job in Chicago. The third was an article in an industrial journal counseling white factory owners in the North to segregate black workers from white workers. And the fourth, was an article in a white owned newspaper talking about race riots in Chicago, and how African-Americans were better off in the South, because they felt that lynch law was better than being killed in a race riot. So there are three more documents that we'll go through pretty quickly and then we can get started on writing a thesis statement. Okay, this is a song by an African-American singer named Lizzie Miles, and the song is called Cotton Belt Blues from 1923. Now I'm not going to attempt to sing this, 'cause you do not want to hear that, but let's get a gist of what it's about. Look at me, look at me, and you see a gal with a heart bogged down with woe because I'm all alone, far from my Southern home. Dixie Dan, that's the man, took me from the Land of Cotton to that cold, cold minded North. Threw me down, hit the town,and I've never seen him henceforth. Just 'cause I trusted, I'm broke and disgusted I got the Cotton Belt Blues. Well, it definitely seems like she has experienced the kind of con man behavior that the man in document two was worried about. So, she's saying that she was fooled into coming up North for a man who has now left her alone. And she misses her home in the South. But you could also think about the fact that she herself if we've got the lyrics to this song, and this recording, probably did pretty well. So, this is more maybe of an expression of popular culture, and less of a particular story about this person Lizzie Miles. So we could talk about the influence of Jazz the fact that African-American's came to the North and influenced popular culture. Alright, we're getting down to the end of these. Let's look at document six. Alright, this document is from an African-American journalist named George Schuyler whose writing in a magazine called The Messenger which was a political and literary magazine for African-Americans. So, he's writing for a sympathetic audience. This is in August of 1925. Schuyler says "It is generally thought by both Negroes and whites that Negroes are the chief strikebreakers in the United States. This is far from the truth. The Negroe workers' part in strikes has been dramatized by virtue of the striking contrast of race which invariably provoked race riots. But the fact is, there are many more scabs among the white than black workers. Partially because there are numerous industries in which Negroes are not permitted to work. Which too, are by no means 100% organized. Out of 20 or more millions of workers in the United States, less than five million are organized. Note the potential for scabs." So one thing you definitely have to know here is what the word "scab" means. So "scab", I think you can kind of tell from the context means strikebreaker, so if a union goes on strike a factory owner might hire scabs or replacement workers to try to break the strike. So Schuyler is saying there is a perception that black workers are often used to break strikes or that when a white labor union would go on strike, the factory owner might then hire black workers, who of course are going to have difficulty finding jobs in a segregated economy, and therefore they don't have to pay the white workers more. And Schuyler says that this is not true it's actually just that African-Americans are so frequently barred from industries, that they can't be represented in strikes because they're not represented in unions, or the places that employ unionized workers. Okay, last one. This one is a map, and I'm just going to put it right here in front of everything, because it's pretty large and if we made it any smaller it would be really hard to see. So when you're looking at maps like this, the first thing you want to do is read the title. Because that way you know what this map is actually trying to show you, and you're not just making assumptions of what it could be trying to show you. So this map is about the distribution of the African-American population in Chicago in 1930. What you can see here, are that the sections that are not shaded at all, or shaded white are less than one percent African-American population. The light grey is one to ten percent. The medium grey is 10 - 50% and then this dark grey is more than 15% African-American. And now what you can see here is that it looks like there is a very, definite African-American neighborhood on the South side of Chicago. Which, I think goes to show that there's some real segregation happening in Chicago. And you can see here at the bottom, it tells you, how many African-Americans were living in Chicago over the 1910 - 1930 period. And even though the share of the population more than triples in that time period, everyone is set in this one small area. So I think that goes to show that even if you were a Southerner who moved to Chicago looking for a better life as an African-American you might still be subject to this system of segregation that would only allow you to live in one neighborhood. But there might also be a positive flip side to that. Which would be that this was a thriving black community. If you were a Southerner who had lived in a relatively rural place, you may not have been able to spend that much time with other African-Americans as a young person. So that's a possible positive interpretation, but we'll keep that one the table just in case it might help us with part of our argument. Alright, now we've read all of the documents and as we get started on our thesis statement I think one of the most useful things you can do is just take a moment and brain-storm some of the themes have arisen in these documents. So what themes do we see here? Well, I think that there's definitely a theme about labor in general not being able to do well under a sharecropping system of labor and looking for a good job. And several things about factory work whether factories should be segregated or whether African-Americans play a part in the labor movement in general or if they work against unions by being scabs. I think there's definitely a theme of segregation or living patterns. We saw that in the map, and we also saw that in some of the documents about segregated work places. And there might also be just kind of a cultural theme here about the differences between life in the North and in the South. We see that when our newspaper letter writer says he's worried about being hoodwinked, and we see that when our Jazz singer talks about she was fooled and left behind. We might even see that with our perceptions of black neighborhood life, that African-Americans may have gone from a system of living very separately in the South, to living in a very dense, urban cultural area. Where they may have met many different African-Americans from all different parts of the country. I think another useful thing for us to do is to think about some of the major historical events going on at that time period, that we can connect to these documents. A big one that comes to mind is the great migration, which we mentioned before. Which was a period in the early 20th century when many Southern African-American's pretty much had had it with life in the South. It was a combination of Jim Crow segregation being legalized. And also sharply declining economic opportunities that led thousands of African-Americans to pack up and head for Northern cities. Now on of the reasons that they could do this, is because World War I was creating many new factory jobs, just the way that World War II would do later on. And so there were many new opportunities in the North to draw African-Americans away to new and even better paying jobs. What else happened in this time period? Well, there was the Supreme Court ruling Plessy v. Ferguson, which legalized segregation in 1896. Which said that separate but equal accommodations were constitutional. The 1910s and 1920s were times of increasing modernity, but also a time of cultural and racial backlash as many new immigrants streamed into the cities along with African-Americans from the South. So there was also a resurgence in the Ku Klux Klan at this time period, which President Woodrow Wilson even kind of tacitly approved of by watching the film Birth of a Nation in the White House. And we might even talk about the Chicago race riot of 1919 which is the race riot mentioned in document four when and you might even mention the Chicago race riot of 1919 which was one of the deadliest race riots in American history. And this is the race riot that's mentioned in document four kind of gloatingly. Alright, so we've identified these three themes that we might discuss in our essay. Now the essay itself is about changes and continuities. So for each of these three things, was there change over this time period or was there continuity? Well in labor you could say there's maybe a change in type of labor. But maybe many of the same problems of race around labor. Alright what about segregation? Well I think there's both segregation in the North and in the South, but again, it's kind of a difference of type and degree. So, segregation still exists in the North but now it's taken on this urban form where there are majority black neighborhoods and then other neighborhoods where there are no African-Americans at all. So a different type. Alright, what about cultural changes? We could see that in some cases, African-Americans who moved North missed their old society. But then again, they certainly had many problems when they were in the South. Singing songs about how the boll weevil and sharecropping had caused feelings of dislocation and poverty. So I think if there is a thesis statement to be gotten out of this, it's that moving from the South to the North, African-Americans in the period from 1910 to 1930, experience pretty much the same problems, but they took different forms. In the next video, I'll talk about how we can turn that into a really beautiful and robust thesis statement And then we'll go through the process of outlining this essay.