Suggested Discussion Questions
- Very few people are aware that the U.S. Civil War and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation dealt solely with freeing Negro slaves within Confederate States. Why do you think freedom for all wasn’t included then? And why do schools not teach more about the rest of the populations?
- Human trafficking seems to be a part of every culture, either blatantly or as part of a black market. Why? Do some immigrants willingly do whatever it takes to start a new life, whether in America or elsewhere? Is it truly slavery if that person makes a conscious choice to risk his/her life for freedom?
- Many of America’s immigrants fled famine and oppression from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Why do you think Chinese immigrants were discriminated against so much more than others were? What is the impact on today’s perspective about the Chinese in America?
- The California Gold Rush continues today, as a flood of immigrants flock to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. Why is the dream of striking it rich so strong? Is it wealth? Opportunity? Freedom? Security? Citizenship?
- The Spanish settlers in Northern California included more than just the Catholic Missionaries, with cultural and educational influences separate from the existing Mexican culture. Specifically, San Jose developed with a link to La Mancha, the region best known through Cervantes’ famous character Don Quixote. Does the concept of “the impossible dream” carry through to today? Are heroism and chivalry dead?
- With the continuation of migrant farm workers through today, many Mexicans still refer to this state as “Alta California” and an extension of Mexico. Why? How does that influence the current discussion of border security, immigration, and naturalization opportunities?
- The 19th century’s concept of America’s Manifest Destiny and the broad Homestead Act combined to support perpetuating Western European heritage and settlers to the demise of native populations. Why hasn’t there been more coverage of plight of California Indians and/or Californios?
- Why is owning one’s own property such an important bedrock for freedom, both personal and economic? What is the current day impact of previous unfair property rights laws on today’s Northern California?
- Tax laws seem to reflect each generation’s priorities, and thus change greatly over time. Can they ever be fair to all its citizens and residents? Should they be, or are they an effective tool for social and economic influence by the government?
- What is the obligation of federal, state, and local governments when the different populations and institutions disagree? Is that what led up to the Civil War? Have we learned from that episode in America’s history, or are we doomed to repeat the conflict?