An analysis of chapter 19 in James Hope Franklin’s book From Slavery to Freedom might focus on the contrast between America’s ideals abroad and their policies at home. Franklin starts chapter 19 with World War II. America had just fought lethal oppression and racism and Europe, yet Black people continued to face dire discrimination in America. Think about how Mary McLeod Bethune, the activist that Franklin brings up, describes America’s soaring World War II–era rhetoric as “empty platitudes.” Delve into how America’s people of color connect to, in the words of Bethune, “the depressed and oppressed masses all over the world.”
Another topic to analyze would be that of “social pathology.” Franklin provides many angles on the supposed pathology of people of color. One of the biggest contributors is Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal. He believed that crime, poor health, and lackluster education could all be attributed to the stigma of being a Black person in America. Yet others, like the anthropologist Franz Boas, argued that a “value-free” examination of Black culture was more constructive than concentrating on supposed pathologies. Indeed, it might be insightful to analyze how those focused on pathology could be seen as promulgating a kind of condescending assimilation.
Carter G. Woodson, also discussed in the chapter, was against assimilation. He advocated studying the rich history of Africans and African Americans. Throughout this chapter, there seems to be a tension between those who want to look at Black people in comparison to white people and those who want to examine Black people independent of white people and white culture. Consider how Woodson and others challenge the patronizing suggestion that Black people don’t have their own independent tradition, lineage, heritage, and so on.
Finally, one might analyze the way in which the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) utilized the court system to advance desegregation. Think about why the courts became the main avenue to push along the issue of desegregation.