Public Initiative

The greatest impact of African American studies scholarship is that it helps generate considerable dialogue across communities. Although this dialogue is not always easy, it allows Americans to measure and interrogate the limitations of the nation’s democratic ideals. Yet African American studies is also an important discipline because it allows us to use the black experience in the United States as a model to promote social equality for all underserved and underrepresented communities in the United States. For your final assignment in this course, you will create a mock public initiative that targets social equality by thinking about how we may best serve these communities.

In an interactive presentation of your choosing, you will identify a social, political or economic issue you believe hinders social justice and equality for African Americans/Afro-latinos/Afro- Caribbeans, etc. You will also explain why more Americans must be attentive to the issue you highlight. Here, you may want to include details based on academic studies or data. You do not have to do an extensive amount of research, simply work to provide your audience with a little bit of context that can help them understand why you chose the topic you are presenting about. The rest of your presentation should propose a public initiative for addressing the issues you point to in the beginning of your presentation. Your proposal should be something feasible, but does not have to be local. For example, you may point out an issue that is prevalent in the United States and compare that specific problem to issues for black communities in the Caribbean or South America. You might also focus specifically on an international community and explain how we can address this community’s needs and why it isimportant to do so.

Remember that your project can be a prezi, a mini-documentary, a power point, a mock social media campaign, a mock advertisement, a creative writing piece, a digital illustration, or something similar. It simply needs to engage your audience by demonstrating why the topic you have selected is an important issue we should be working to address presently.
There are no restrictions on how creative you can be for your presentation, but keep in mind that you should be able to upload it to blackboard so that the class can see it.

In previous semesters, my students have presented several different types of projects that pinpoint important issues for African Americans and other communities of color. Watch these clips for a sense of how to approach your own project and keep the following in mind:

(a) you should present something to the class that is engaging and encourages us to think about the issue(s) you point to from your perspective.

(b) approach the writing aspects of this project (or recording if you plan to include screen-cast or sound clips) as though you are pitching a business idea to potential investors. Don’t just summarize the issue you are proposing a public initiative for, sell the idea to the audience. Convey its importance for your audience, the state, the nation or specific communities.

(c) Be creative. Work to engage your audience by creatively detailing the importance of the issue you present about and the resolution you have for addressing that issue. For some of you, this might mean using a creative format to present, but for others, it might be adding little things that make the topic more relevant to your audience (a social media campaign, and online game you create or a virtual tour of something you propose). Whatever your choice, have fun with it.

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