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Research Paper on The Children by David Halberstam

The Children research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?

The Children by David Halberstam is the biography of eight African American college students who lived through the Civil Rights movement.  Because this time period is often difficult to capture through historical writing—as much of what happened was a deeply personal experience for those involved—Halberstam has taken an ethnographic approach to understanding this period of time.  By utilizing actual participants rather than historical data, Halberstam is able to capture the quintessential elements of the time period and how it impacted the lives of those that lived through it.

The Children

The children begins with the exploration of Diane Nash.

  • Diane Nash is one of the eight individuals that Halberstam follows through his work. 
  • A student at Fisk University in 1960, Nash was a regular participant in protests that challenged the segregation laws that were still in effect at the time. 
  • Although Nash has become somewhat of a leader in the protest group, her anxiety about undertaking such protests is overwhelming; she initially joined the protest group because of an interest she had in a boy she was dating the year before. 
  • Despite her fears, many in her group admire Diane because of her bravery and confidence.

As the group of protestors that Nash was involved with grew larger, there was an impetus for more organization.  Because of what many believed was Diane’s natural born instinct as a leader, she was elected chairman of the central committee.  “She was the one person who would be acceptable to everyone. She was fearless and selfless”.  Despite the confidence that that those around her had, Diane believed that she was not up to the challenge and attempted to decline the nomination.  Despite this she was convinced to become chairman of the central committee.

What was most surprising to Nash was the personal changes that she had undergone as a result of becoming part of the Civil Rights movement.  Having grown up in the privileged south-side of Chicago, Diane had adopted an almost passive approach to the world around her.  She was a teenage beauty queen, “competing in the local Miss America contest in 1956 as a high school student” and had even performed in the regional competition for the title of Miss Illinois.

While Diane was remarkable for her beauty, her family was unique—and in many respects disillusioned—in its approach to the subject of race.  In Diane’s home The Children of race was often downplayed as her mother and father attempted to instill in their children the belief that race did not matter “It was as if race in America did not really exits because they willed it not to exist”.  Despite her parent’s attempts to raise her as an American, devoid of race, Diane clearly remembers incidents from her childhood in which she was faced with the reality that she was black.

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