The body paragraphs need to thoroughly address all
elements of the task by: demonstrating an understanding of the
theme; incorporating relevant facts, examples, and details; and
presenting everything in an organized manner.
This is where the completion of a pre-writing table
really pays off! If constructed and filled in properly, this table
will form the basis of organizing the body paragraphs of the thematic
essay response. For example:
The colors above highlight how the information about
can be organized into three body paragraphs. One approach to writing
this essay would be to compose one body paragraph
about slavery, another body paragraph
about segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, and a
final paragraph discussing how voting rights, affirmative action
and economic gains demonstrate that equality has been achieved
by African Americans. For example:
The enslavement of African Americans
beginning in the earliest days of our founding as a colony
of England, and ending in 1865, represents the most fundamental
denial of rights. Slaves had no rights whatsoever, and were
even beaten, raped, and killed by their white owners and
overseers. During this time, even freedmen risked
if they were suspected of being a runaway slave. Slavery
was officially banned in the United States with the passage
of the Thirteenth Amendment at the end of the Civil War.
After being freed, African Americans were also provided
with the same rights afforded to all Americans. The Fourteenth
Amendment granted citizenship and equal protection, and
the Fifteenth Amendment provided all males with the right
to vote. However, shortly after Reconstruction ended, African
Americans once again were denied basic civil rights.
Jim Crow laws were passed and Black
Codes were designed to keep African Americans in conditions
very close to the previous servitude. Eventually, racial
segregation took hold, and in 1896 the landmark Supreme
Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson established the
Separate But Equal Doctrine. This stated that so long as
the facilities provided for each race were equal, they were
legal. Thus, legal segregation would be the norm for at
least the next fifty years. Plessy v. Ferguson was
eventually overturned in 1954 in the Brown v. Board
case in which the Supreme Court decided that all public
schools were to integrate as quickly as possible. Then,
Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus to accommodate
a white passenger in 1955. Eventually, through an organized
bus boycott forced the end of segregated bus seating in
Montgomery, Alabama. The Civil Rights Movement continued,
leading to an expansion of rights currently enjoyed by all
African Americans today.
Currently, African American enjoy
equality on a level never before seen. The Twenty-Fourth
Amendment banned the use of the poll tax, removing the last
legal obstacle used by states to prevent African Americans
from voting. Today, the vote of African Americans is courted
by politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Affirmative action has also leveled the playing field in
a variety of areas of life including education and the workplace.
This has helped African American achieve economic gains
that have helped to place many solidly in the middle class.
The table above formed the basis for the content
included in these body paragraphs. It has allowed the writer to
visualize the flow of the essay before committing to a single paragraph
to paper. The facts in the table were embellished with details
designed to thoroughly address all aspects of the task.