Kathleen Cleaver Interview

Historical content: 
The Civil Rights Era
Historical skills: 
Contextualization, Sourcing, Use of evidence

Assessment

Directions: 

Carefully watch the interview from 1:04:30 to 1:06:03 and answer the question that follows.

Source: 

This excerpt is from an interview with Kathleen Cleaver conducted by Joseph Monier as part of the United States Civil Rights History Project. Cleaver is a law professor at Emory University. She is a former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a former leader of the Black Panther Party. In this excerpt, she explains what started a riot in Nashville in 1967.

Source text: 

"Because the Tennessee legislature had been predicting violence - if Stokely Carmichael came, there was going to be violence - they got Michigan state helmets and training in riot control for their Nashville police, and they were so ready for this violence that they started the riot before [laughs] Stokely Carmichael got there. I think it was some kind of little, um, a fight, a fight or a conflict at a bar sparked it, and then it went on for days."

Additional facts related to Kathleen Cleaver's account:
1.   Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Tennessee in 1968.
2.   This interview was recorded in 2011.
3.   Cleaver left Nashville a week before the riot began.
4.   There were also race riots in Detroit and Newark in 1967.

Question:Which 2 of the 4 facts above might cause you to question the reliability of Cleaver's account of what began the race riot? Explain your reasoning.

About the Assessment

Like the Unions in Paterson, New Jersey assessment, this question gauges whether students can source and contextualize a document. Students must first examine an interview excerpt on a race riot in Nashville, then determine which facts can help them evaluate the interview's reliability. Strong students will be able to explain how the the gap in time between the riot and the interview (Fact 2) and that Cleaver was not present for the riot (Fact 3) make the account less reliable.