Essay about James Baldwin

Over the last few weeks, we have read five pieces by James Baldwin as well as viewed the film I Am Not Your Negro. For this last essay of the semester, you need to reflect on Baldwin’s beliefs and writing. You must address one, some or all of the readings and film in your essay response. This paper needs to be at least three FULL pages, contain proper MLA format, support your arguments with quotations from your sources, be well-organized, have an arguable thesis, and be well-edited for your typical errors.

Essay Choice #1
Choose a significant aspect of “I Am Not Your Negro.”
Explain the significance through supporting examples, which include at least two of the Baldwin readings from this semester.
Explore research to learn more about your examples (comparing past history with current events).
Develop reasons for your own opinions (addressing why you believe your ideas are significant).
RESPONSIBILITY: What, in your opinion, does Baldwin mean by “taking responsibility for your own life”? What examples from the movie support your opinion? When you research these examples in more depth, what do you learn? Why did you choose this option? In other words, what does the phrase “taking responsibility for your own life” mean for you and what relevant experiences support your examples?

AMERICAN DREAM: How did you define the “American Dream” before watching “I Am Not Your Negro”? What specific examples from the movie support and/or contradict your definition? When you research these examples in more depth, what do you learn? Has your definition of the “American Dream” changed as a result of watching the movie? Why or why not?

HISTORICAL MEDIA ARTIFACT: What historical media artifact (music, photography, film, advertising) draws your particular attention in “I Am Not Your Negro”? What specific examples from the movie support your ideas? When you research these examples in more depth, what do you learn? Why did these particular examples draw your attention? Why do these examples seem especially significant in 2018?

Essay Choice #2
James Baldwin composed “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity” and “Sonny’s Blues” in the years after World War II, during the Civil Rights Movement. In other words, Baldwin wrote during a period of great social and cultural transitions, and his writing is well over 50-60 years old. With that in mind, consider these questions: What risks does Baldwin ask the audience to take? Why? Would an audience in 2018 be willing to take such risks? Do you believe that James Baldwin’s writing remains relevant for audiences in 2018? Why or why not? You may want to consider the issues surrounding Colin Kaepernick, taking a knee, and defining patriotism. Cite the above articles in your response.

Essay Choice #3
You will need to read “Support Christmas Boycott
,” an article by James Baldwin written with performing artists and writers Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Odetta Gordan, John O. Killens, and Louis Lomax. You also need to imagine that the readers for whom you write do NOT share your opinion. Your job is to respectfully invite readers to consider your opinion, and perhaps to persuade readers to change their minds. Refer to another Baldwin reading in your response.

Choose one of the following prompts to focus your writing.
In 2018, James Baldwin (who died in 1987) would have turned 94. Imagine that he is still alive and still writing strong—and that, as the 2018 holiday season approaches, he is considering republishing “Support Christmas Boycott
.” In addition, imagine that Baldwin has written to you asking your advice on whether or not to post “Support Christmas Boycott” on social media. What advice would you give him? Why?
Imagine that it is 1963
. Write a response to Baldwin’s call for a boycott. Engage his most significant ideas. From this engagement, figure out your own position. Do you agree or disagree? Do you agree with some ideas but not others? Do you find contradictions? What would you do if you were an adult in 1963 faced with this decision?
In 1963, James Unger, a Boston College student wrote “Santa Claus Boycott
” for the Boston College newspaper In the Heights. Most significantly, Unger suggests that people have grown tired of reading about Civil Rights and that the situation will improve with time. It is better, Unger writes, not “to press too hard and too fast.“ Fifty-six years have passed since the boycott proposal of 1963. Write a response to Unger from 56 years in the future, addressing how Unger’s predictions for the future actually turned out.
Christmas 2018: Boycott—yes or no. Explain your response in detail.

Some of these essay prompts are borrowed and modified from:





















































































































Sample Solution