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On page 44 of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy he meets an old parishioner at a church where Stevenson is giving a presentation on the justice system and institutional racism. On page 46, the old man tells Stevenson, “You’re beating the drum for justice!” The old man repeats the point several times: “Beat the drum for justice.” Justice, in this case, is the cause of civil rights and equality within the criminal justice system. Stevenson advocates for a number of causes throughout Just Mercy, including the death penalty, juvenile rights, the rights of the mentally ill, and equal legal representation for the poor.
There are many “drums” we could beat for different types of justice in our lives and within our communities, some of them including Stevenson’s causes. HW #3 is our first major essay of the semester and involves identifying a cause you believe needs more attention, a drum that needs beating. You want to persuade your reader that your cause needs attention, lacks justice, and requires some sort of response.
Examples of topics could include subjects such as racial or gender issues, economic issues, social justice, human rights, immigration, among many possibilities. Keep the requirements of the assignment in mind as you consider topics; some topics are going to be much more difficult to credibly argue than others, and some clearly will not work. Please do not write about the death penalty, abortion, euthanasia, or marijuana. Also, it’s fine if you want to be contrarian or very specific in your topic selection, as long as you meet all the assignment requirements and can demonstrate the injustice related to your cause. This assignment is NOT about forcing you to bang a random drum you don’t care about. Obviously, we’re in the middle of a national debate about race and equality, so that topic is hard to escape at the moment; this doesn’t mean you have to write about race. If you do write about something related to the protests, be specific. Just saying “Black Lives Matter” isn’t really specific enough. What exactly do you want your reader to know and do about your issue?
You need to use the rhetorical strategies we’ll be covering in weeks two and three. TRACE, specifically sensitivity to potential constraints and exigence, is important. The three appeals need to appear in your essay. Counter-argument and qualification are required. Finally, your sources need to meet the standards of the CRAAP analysis. Please don’t use Just Mercy as one of your sources.
Clear thesis with qualification somewhere in the essay
Five pages formatted in MLA with in-text citations for ALL outside references
Four sources that meet the CRAAP standards (doesn’t matter where they’re from, for now)
The three rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, pathos)
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