I need to beef up my thesis statement in my humanities class for an argumentative presentation. My thesis is as follows: African American Writers, Artists and musicians of the Harlem...

I need to beef up my thesis statement in my humanities class for an argumentative presentation. 

My thesis is as follows:

African American Writers, Artists and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance helped begin to pave the way for the Civil Rights Movement.  The recognition they received for their works began to open the lines of comunication that would help the Civil Rights movement be heard.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In composing an argumentative essay, a writer's main goal is to communicate clearly his views and to persuade his readers to consider his position seriously. So, the thesis must contain a strong statement that takes a position and presents strong arguments that support this position.

Therefore, regarding the above thesis statement, you may want to revise it because it states a position and only mentions one of the premises of three arguments of How? and Why? that are needed.  For instance, you could write something like this:

African American writers, artists, and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance helped to pave the way to the Civil Rights Movement through their encouragement and identification with ordinary people to assert themselves, through the recognition of their contributions to society,and through ______[give another reason].

Be sure when you write your thesis that you state your main arguments in this thesis and write them in parallel structure [ all phrases or clauses that are worded similarly].  In persuasive writing, it is crucial to make readers care about the issue from the outset. So persuade them that the issue affects them, whether they are on one side or the other. Each paragraph of the body should persuade the reader why your position is the best.

Begin your essay with an attention-getting anecdote or scenario, a suprising statistic, or a rhetorical question (one that is asked to make readers' think.) For instance, you could ask a question that is a type of reflection:  How many upper class New Yorkers imagined that in their enjoyment of the music and singing at The Cotton Club in Harlem during the 1920s that they would be faced with "the Negro Problem". Or you could include this observation about Langston Hughes:

In his work, Hughes once said that his poetry deals with "workers, roustabouts, and singers, and job hunters...people up today and down tomorrow, working this week and fired the next, beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten.

Then, clearly identify the issue and state your position with the thesis.

Organize your persuasive essay in one of three ways:

Order of importance.  You can go from least to most important building your argument to its key point.  Or, you can start with the most important.

Chronological order. Demonstrate the contributions of African-Americans in order of the years in which they contributed.

Logical appeals.  Make arguments as concrete as possible. Provide historical examples and real-life examples of the causes and effects of African-Americans' efforts to give voice to their people.  Remain as objective as possible in descriptions and proof.  On the other hand, the use of emotional language in the right place is often appealing to readers. Such words that are referred to as "connotative words" are words that move people.  For instance, the poet Langston Hughes encouraged his people to pursue their dreams when he wrote of a "dream deferred"; likewise, Paul Dunbar's poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" inspired many African Americans to keep working for their social freedom because it was necessary to their spirits. The great innovator Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, who started the first "big band" and a sound that became so popular among white Americans that their influence extended far and wide, certainly inspired many.  

Always try to anticipate counter-arguments and defuse them.  The conclusion should leave the audience feeling that the essay has adequately covered the issue. You can reiterate the position of your thesis statement again with a reflection that carries the reader a step further in his thinking.