argumentative essay

In “A Talk to Teachers,” James Baldwin offers a snapshot of the American educational system in
1963, a system built on lies about the true role of African Americans in the history and in the life
of our country. More broadly, he presents a view of the conditions of life for African Americans
at that time. Fifty-eight years later, how have those conditions changed? What aspects of life
for African Americans today have improved since 1963? What aspects have gotten worse?
Overall, is life better for African Americans today than it was fifty-eight years ago? In your
argumentative essay, you will answer these questions through the lens of Elizabeth Alexander’s
essay “The Trayvon Generation,” which offers another snapshot of America taken just one year
ago. You will use “A Talk to Teachers” as a source to provide evidence about the conditions in
America in 1963. Similarly, you will use “The Trayvon Generation” as a source to provide
evidence about the conditions in America today.
Your essay should follow the conventions of academic writing, with an introductory paragraph,
body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. You must make a strong thesis statement in your
introductory paragraph that clearly and concisely expresses what you will be arguing in your
essay. Your thesis statement should be original, interesting, well-defined, and not too broad or
too narrow in scope. Your argument throughout your essay should support the thesis statement.
Unlike the personal narrative, for this essay the use of first-person pronouns (I, me, my, mine,
we, us, our, ours) is discouraged. Please use the third person (he, she, it, his, hers, its, they, them,
their, theirs). You should also avoid contractions: for example, instead of such constructions as
it’s, don’t, won’t, and isn’t, you should use it is, do not, will not, and is not. You should cite
evidence from both “A Talk to Teachers” and “The Trayvon Generation” in your essay. Please
document these sources properly using MLA citation. We will discuss the proper formatting of
your list of works cited in class. Your essay should be 1000—1250 words in length,
approximately 3 to 3 ½ pages of double-spaced text.