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OCR A level History

I am wondering if someone can mark this essay for me please. It's civil rights in the USA 1865-1992:

The quality of African American leadership was the most important factor in the advancement of African American civil rights in the period from 1865 to 1992. How far do you agree? [25]

The quality of African American leadership should be argued as the most important factor in the advancement of African American civil rights because of the significance that they gave for the blacks across the period. This includes things like organisations, acts and supreme court cases. However, there must be other factors to consider for the advancement of African American civil rights including the civil rights organisation itself and the Federal Government as they pushed forward the civil rights that African Americans needed starting from the abolishment of slavery in 1865.

The first factor to demonstrate the advancement of African American civil rights in the period from 1865 to 1992 is the quality of African American leadership. This is because across the range of over 100 years, there have been multiple dominant leaders who have either attempted successfully or unsuccessfully to better the lives of African Americans, ranging from Frederick Douglass to MLK and Jackson. Assessing the quality of leadership, they have clearly made changes in a political, social and economic sense before leading up to the Civil Rights Act in 1964 which was the most significant achievement for African American civil rights. In a political sense it can be argued that Du Bois had brought the path for political rights and had proved his leadership in the successful organisation, the NAACP which had helped fight many supreme court cases down the road fighting against discrimination and equal rights while supporting Martin Luther King with desegregation of buses and schools in the 1950’s like brown vs board of education, Topeka in 1957. During the period of the 1960’s, the quality of Philip Randolph’s leadership on the march on Washington in 1963 showed that different leaders were able to collaborate and push the government to regain the rights outlined in the Civil Rights Act. In a social sense, the quality of African American leadership can be demonstrated by leaders like Garvey, MLK and Malcolm X. Marcus Garvey under the influence of Booker T Washington’s previous leadership, he had set up the UNIA to attempt to not only improve the economic conditions of blacks, but to encourage them to take control of their own affairs. This also came with the ideology that African Americans should return to Africa but was originally rejected by Washington, and later agreed by Malcolm X, who had given blacks more confidence in their culture especially with African hairstyles and music for example. This proves that the quality of leadership of Malcolm X was proven useful as a legacy as his followers after his death in 1965 had pushed his views of racial superiority and that violent protest is the only way to fight for their rights. It could also be argued that socially, the events of MLK at Birmingham and Selma were unsuccessful but it pushed a way for public reaction to the racism they faced causing federal intervention. Socially, the quality of African American should be argued to be the most important factor for African Americans because it demonstrated that despite the fact that African Americans were being discriminated against with segregation, the leaders had the power to take control of protests to create change. Finally, in economic aspects, it should be argued that Booker T Washington started change with employment and education with his own organisation the Tuskegee Institute, and the Atlanta compromise speech seeking whites and blacks to work together without discrimination - the outcome was that Washington was called ‘Uncle Tom’ which MLK followed up with the housing and education situation in the late 1960’s. Booker T Washington had also created the book ‘Up from Slavery’ which also heightened his recognition as an African American leader. Therefore, the quality of African American leadership in the period from 1865 to 1992 is the most important factor for the advancement of African American leadership because the leaders had created change in different ways that had improved the lives of African Americans that had begun with living in ghettos and eventually creating a black middle class.

Another factor that could be argued as the most important for the advancement of civil rights for African Americans is the actions of the Federal government. This is because of the actions of the Supreme Court and the President that had changing attitudes about African Americans across the period. For example, in terms of segregation, Woodrow Wilson created segregation in the white house with it reversed under Roosevelt. The executive orders of both Roosevelt and Truman showed to be effective in giving equal rights to African Americans as Roosevelt had stopped racial discrimination for Federal employment when pushed by Randolph with a threat of a march on Washington in 1948 which did eventually happen with the same plans in 1963. Truman had also done an executive order in 1947 which was a desegregation of the military. This demonstrates that the executive orders of the president had pushed change in civil rights for African Americans because they had been segregated forcefully especially in the deep south and the Jim Crow laws. The Jim Crow laws had given de facto segregation in the south with many political changes to disenfranchised African Americans. One example is the Grandfather clause which had been overturned by the Supreme Court in 1915. This was the beginning of voting rights for African Americans which was eventually achieved in the voting rights act of 1965 by Johnson. The federal government after the success of African American civil rights had created MLK day by Reagan. This shows that as a factor, the federal government had pushed the advancement for civil rights because they had forcefully went against and overturned the actions of mainly the racist south. During the period of Eisenhower, it is argued that despite that he was southern, he still supported African Americans with the help of Earl Warren during the brown vs board of education case, and making the troops of Governor of Alabama under federal control as it was humiliating the African American children, and had them protected and walked into the little rock high school. Therefore, the actions of the Federal government is not the most important factor for the advancement of African American civil rights in the period 1865-1992 because the quality of leadership had caused pressure on the government to create change especially with the number of supreme court cases to be overturned like Plessy v Ferguson in 1896 which had racially discriminated African Americans for the next century.

The final factor that can be argued as the most important for the advancement of civil rights for African Americans is the actions of civil rights organisations like the NAACP, SCLC and the NOI. Organisations have had a significant impact on the lives of African Americans whether it is improvement of employment opportunities or in the social and political aspects of their lives. The Freedman Bureau in 1870’s which Douglass had an opportunity to join but declined, but it had started as a welfare self help government organisation for African Americans after slavery was abolished. This had led to the Tuskegee Institute by Booker T Washington which improved on the Freedman Bureau with improved education opportunities with higher qualified teachers, seeking to make more African American children literate which would help them earn money as a skilled worker in employment. This can be compared to the SCLC, seeking better education and housing by MLK which he had attempted up to 1968. The racial congress during the period of reconstruction had fought for rights of African Americans by limiting Andrew Johnson so they were able to change the policy of reconstruction so it is not impeding on African Americans. Socially, the NOI could be argued to be an important organisation as Malcolm X had played an important part but was limited by Elijah Mohammed, and the SNCC provided a more protesting and confrontational approach for their civil rights compared to the SCLC. This means that the approach by Ella Baker was clearly inspired by the SCLC’s actions of the bus boycott leading to the desegregation of buses. This is proven when Ella Baker says ‘good people do not need good leaders’ as it demonstrates that the organisation of the SNCC should protest for their own rights instead of following the leader which had limited MLK’s organisation. Also the actions of the UNIA demonstrates that Garvey was seen as a replacement of Booker T Washington, making African Americans believe in themselves again when they were beginning to think they cannot mix with the white race. This clearly shows that the UNIA had supported African Americans in a cultural sense like Malcolm X had attempted to do. Finally, politically, the actions of the NAACP should be shown as the most effective organisation for the arguments of the Supreme Court cases condemning inequality of African Americans, and false accusations like the result of the Chicago Race Riots in 1919. There is also an organisation called CORE which fought for African Americans who were getting discriminated against. Therefore, organisations aren't the most important factor for the advancement of civil rights for African Americans in the period 1865-1992 because the quality of African Americans are much more effective as they cause the actions of organisations, so they must be more important as they use their organisations to seek retaliation for racism.

In conclusion, the quality of African American leadership is the most important factor for the advancement of civil rights for African Americans in the period 1865-1992 because the different leaders throughout the period had demonstrated unique qualities that they could use to build pressure on the government and the white public. However, the other factors: organisations and the federal government bring an aspect of civil rights but it is clear that the leadership allowed the other factors to be successful in the USA for African American civil rights.
Reply 1
The problem with having one long paragraph for each factor is that it's not easy to see how they compare with one another, which is the whole point of the essay. Plus it limits you on how many you can actually include. e.g. grassroots activism, which you didn't mention at all, did see some success in improving the economic positions of black Americans (e.g. "Don't Buy Where You Can't Work"), whereas initiatives from civil rights leaders kind of floundered there (e.g. King's Poor People's Campaign).

It is better to have one paragraph each on political, social and economic rights, and compare the factors within those. Otherwise you are artificially limiting yourself on the number of things you can talk about.
Reply 2
I dont know what grassroots activism is or the quote. The poor people's campaign fair but ive been taught to only do social political and economic for turning points etc. Do you have an estimated mark that i could get?
Reply 3
Original post by Hasbo2005
I dont know what grassroots activism is or the quote.


Grassroots activism refers to community-led initiatives, without the input of major organisations like the NAACP (although they might come in and help later). Don't Buy Where You Can't Work was a boycott campaign of the 1930s targeted at businesses that refused to hire black people. See here: https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/dont-buy-where-you-cant-work-movement

The poor people's campaign fair but ive been taught to only do social political and economic for turning points etc. Do you have an estimated mark that i could get?


There's very few instances when splitting into political/social/economic doesn't work, and really it would be ideal here.

I'm not a teacher, I don't really know what marks you'd actually get, but I think it would be quite middling - less than 20, because rather than directly comparing these factors, you're mostly treating them in isolation of each other. This is why I think the one-paragraph-per-factor approach fails here

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