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Black Power Movement Essay Questions

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The Black Power Movement played a defining role in racial justice and race relations in the United States. This lesson offers a series of engaging questions designed to provoke your students' critical thinking about the movement.

Studying the Black Power Movement

As part of teaching modern American history, you will probably introduce your students to a variety of social movements that have altered the nature of our society. One such movement was the Black Power Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, which made a profound impact on the state of race relations in the United States. One way to get your students to understand the Black Power Movement and its impact is by having them write essays about it. The essay topics in this lesson are oriented toward evoking critical thinking and careful analysis as your students work their way through the writing process.

Topics about the Black Power Movement

This section offers a series of essay questions that will get your students thinking about what the Black Power Movement was, how it unfolded, and how it impacted American politics and society.

  • Explain the Black Power Movement for an audience that has never heard of it. As you write about this movement, describe its underlying goals, key players, and major social outcomes or impacts.
  • Overall, would you argue that the Black Power Movement was or was not successful in achieving its goals? Consider what lessons other movements might take from both the successes and failures of the Black Power Movement.
  • How would you characterize the Black Power Movement's overall relationship to and philosophy on violence? Discuss and support your own opinion on the use of and need for violence in major social movements.
  • Zero in on one major leader of the Black Power Movement, such as Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, or a leading member of the Black Panthers. What do you see as this person's major contribution and perspective? How did his or her life and work impact the movement overall, and how do you feel he or she should be remembered in history?
  • What was the role of women in the Black Power Movement? In your essay, discuss some different historical perspectives on gender and women's roles within this movement.

The Black Power & Other Social Movements

The essay questions in this section will help your students think about the way the Black Power Movement compares to other social movements within American history.

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