Rugged Individualism

Background:   As we read in Herbert Hoover’s “Rugged Individualism” Campaign Speech, the United States has been founded on the idea of rugged individualism and personal liberty. Yet, in Luis Rodriguez’s Always Running, we saw times when Rodriguez tried to bring about social change, often with the help of others. At the end of the day, though, it was Rodriguez who ultimately brought about change in his own life and left his past life in gangs behind.Social progress in the United States, like the more small-scale successes shown in Always Running, was also generally won with the help of many different people and groups.  In the short documentary films “The March on Washington: How the Movement Began” and “The March on Washington: The Spirit of the Day,” both by TIME, as well as March: Book 2, one of three books in John Lewis’ March Trilogy, we saw how an event led by a relatively small group of people could bring about great social change in the United States: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Additionally, in the short documentary film “Sal Castro and the 1968 East LA Walkouts,” we saw the impact of Sal Castro and his students here in Los Angeles.  However, when reflecting back on the historical impact of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the 1968 East LA Walkouts, many people often focus on the impact of one individual rather than the numerous people who participated. [For further context: Merriam-Webster defines rugged individualism as “the practice or advocacy of individualism in social and economic relations emphasizing personal liberty and independence, self-reliance, resourcefulness, self-direction of the individual, and free competition in enterprise,” or a system in which the individual is stressed.  It defines collectivism as “emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity,” or a group/groups of people is stressed instead of the individual.]Prompt:  Respond to the following using Always Running, at least two of the other readings or films from this unit, and your own personal experience(s): Do you believe success (whether it be on a smaller, more individual scale or something as large as achieving social progress) is largely a result of individualism or collectivism? The most effective essays will engage and synthesize the different sources specified from the unit and utilize the pre-writing activities completed for our class. 

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