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African American Studies Syllabus

Miss O’Connor – room 407

Email reneeoconnor@dadeschools.net

Class website http://miaminorlandshs.org/apps/staff/ (search for Renee O’Connor)



Important note regarding attendance:

100% of your work will be done in class (unless you have an excused absence), therefore ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. Each time you are absent (unexcused) from my class, you will receive an F for the work done in class that day. Students that have an EXCUSED absence will be given 48 hours to complete they makeup assignment.



Class focus:

This African American studies course is designed to develop an understanding of the causes, character, and consequences of the African American experience and its influence on the world, the United States, and the African American community. Beginning with a historical, geographical, social, political, economic, and cultural understanding of the African continent, the course will provide a descriptive and corrective overview which will introduce the student to the study of the African and African American experiences.

Upon completion of the course, the students will:

• Gain an appreciation of the richness, diversity, and contributions of African American culture to national and international life and the world.

• Reaffirm the fact that civilization in the United States is not the result of the work and energy of one people, but is the result of the contributions of African Americans and many other groups.

• Develop a knowledge of important people, events, and ideas that have played a key role in shaping the history and culture of African Americans, and the history and culture of the United States.

There are connecting threads present throughout the course. These threads are reflective of major aspects of, and influences on African American life. Some of the major themes to be developed throughout the course will include the:

• Enduring presence of Africanisms – those patterns of life which emanated from Africa – and their impact on African American life in the United States.

• History and nature of the African American family.

• Impact of racism and colonialism – individual and institutional – on Africans and African Americans.

• Origins and development of slavery and its negative impact on Africa and the United States.

• Bi-cultural nature of the African American experience – minority and dominant and how Americans have responded to that duality or twoness.

• Diversity of thought, response, and expression that African Americans have demonstrated in reaction to their experiences.

• Development of African American nationalism as a result of the segregated nature of American society.

• Participation of African Americans in each of the nation’s wars and conflicts.

• Importance of the African American church and other religious components as forces for social change and continuity.

• Significant and continuous role of women in the African American experience and in the struggle for liberation.

• Failure of government – federal, state, and local – to support existing laws and demands of African Americans that would provide equality.

• Presence of an Afrocentric perspective as an alternative to the Eurocentric viewpoint that has dominated American life and culture.

The law mandating the teaching of African and African American history:

Florida legislature F.S. 1003.42

(h) The history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the contributions of African Americans to society. Instructional materials shall include the contributions of African Americans to American society.

Class framework:

There are 8 major curriculum focus in the teaching of African American history that we will cover in this class.


  1. Ancient Africa

    1. Geography

    2. Ancient Egypt

    3. West Africa

    4. Kingdoms

    5. Classical Civilizations

    6. Diaspora

    7. Contribution



  1. African Explorations of the World: Pre-Columbus

    1. Trade

    2. Moors

    3. African Explorers of the World

    4. African presence in Europe, South America, Americas and the World

    5. Explorations

  2. Invasions and weakening of Africa: European Colonialism

    1. European colonialism

    2. European exploitation

    3. Tribal/National Conflicts

    4. Slavery

    5. Expansion of the Sahara Desert

  3. Slavery in the Americas

    1. Slave trade

    2. Slavery in North America

    3. Slavery in South America and the Caribbean

  4. Neo-slavery; abolition, Civil Rights and constitutional rights

    1. Abolition

    2. Bill of Rights

    3. Struggle for Civil Rights

  5. The soul of African Americans

    1. Myths

    2. Resources

    3. Values

    4. Harlem Renaissance

  6. Contributions of African Americans to the US and to the world

    1. Art

    2. Literature

    3. Music

    4. Politics

    5. Science

    6. Religion

    7. Medicine

  7. Current state of African Americans

    1. African Americans in the 21st century

    2. How far we have come vs. how far we have yet to go

    3. “Black Lives Matter” and current cultural events

Class Calendar Timeline

1st 9 weeks – Ancient Civilizations in Africa though Slavery

2nd 9 weeks – Civil War/Emancipation

3rd 9 weeks – Reconstruction to Civil Rights Movement

4th 9 weeks – African Americans in modern USA

Florida Social Studies Standards that will be covered in class

SS.912.A.1.1: Describe the importance of historiography, which includes how historical knowledge is obtained and transmitted, when interpreting events in history.

SS.912.A.1.2: Utilize a variety of primary and secondary sources to identify author, historical significance, audience, and authenticity to understand a historical period.

SS.912.A.1.3: Utilize timelines to identify the time sequence of historical data.

SS.912.A.1.4: Analyze how images, symbols, objects, cartoons, graphs, charts, maps, and artwork may be used to interpret the significance of time periods and events from the past.

SS.912.A.1.5: Evaluate the validity, reliability, bias, and authenticity of current events and Internet resources.

SS.912.G.4.7: Use geographic terms and tools to explain cultural diffusion throughout places, regions, and the world.

SS.912.W.1.6: Evaluate the role of history in shaping identity and character.

SS.912.W.3.10: Identify key significant economic, political, and social characteristics of Ghana.

SS.912.W.3.11: Identify key figures and significant economic, political, and social characteristics associated with Mali.

SS.912.W.3.13: Compare economic, political, and social developments in East, West, and South Africa.

SS.912.W.6.6: Analyze the causes and effects of imperialism.

SS.912.W.3.3: Determine the causes, effects, and extent of Islamic military expansion through Central Asia, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula.

SS.912.W.3.9: Trace the growth of major sub-Saharan African kingdoms and empires.

Reading Standards for literature to be taught/developed/mastered in class:

Students will be required to read 2 African American novels in class and complete in class projects on both. The following are standards that will be used when assessing students comprehension of the novels.

LAFS.10.RL.1.1 - citing evidence

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

LAFS.10.RL.1.2 – development of theme

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

LAFS.10.RL.1.3 – development of characters (during our independent reading portion of class)

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

LAFS.10.RL.2.4 – grade level vocabulary – SAT vocabulary infusion

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

LAFS.10.RL.2.5 – text structure

Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

LAFS.10.RL.2.6 – point of view using literature from outside US

Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

LAFS.10.RL.3.7 – comparing 2 pieces of artistic medium

Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).

LAFS.10.RL.3.9 – how authors draw from other works

Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

LAFS.10.RL.4.10 – read and comprehend grade level text

By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.



Reading standards for informational text

LAFS.10.RI.1.1 - citing evidence to support analysis

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

LAFS.10.RI.1.2 - determine central idea of text

Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

LAFS.10.RI.1.3 - analyze authors text structure

Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

LAFS.10.RI.2.4 – grade level vocabulary

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).

LAFS.10.RI.2.5 – analyze authors development of ideas

Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).

LAFS.10.RI.2.6 – author’s point of view

Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

LAFS.10.RI.3.7 – compare 2 works of different mediums

Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.

LAFS.10.RI.3.8 – validity of reliability of author’s argument

Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

LAFS.10.RI.3.9 – analyze US documents

Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.

LAFS.10.RI.4.10 - read and comprehend grade level text

By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Content to be Studied

Civilization of the African Empires within the Context of Classical Civilization in Europe

(i.e. Greco-Roman)

The Kemet and Nubian kingdoms and dynasties.

African Exploration: The history of the Moors and the explorations of the Africans into the world, including North and South America.

African presence in the region before slavery as documented by Ivan Van Sertima (1979) and (1990) in his books The Moors and the African Presence in Europe and They Came Before Columbus, the Ancient Presence of Africans in the Americas.

African presence in Europe and the world.

Invasion and weakening of Africa by European Colonialism.

Post-Pyramid empires in the West (i.e. Ghana, Mali, Songhay, Kanem-Bornu, and Benin).

Forest Kingdoms, Congo, Ashanti, Bechuanaland, Zulu Land and others.

The development of the arts, sciences, and language arts in Africa, and their influence on the world.

The Ancient African kingdoms prior to 700 B.C. and post 600 B.C. to 1500 A.D.



Africa in Transition - The Weakening of Africa and the Advent of Slavery

Trade with the Europeans and African countries and kingdoms.

The factors of climate (Sahara Desert), tribal conflicts, and political changes brought on by colonialism.

The beginning of African slavery by the Portuguese in the late 1490’s and early 1500’s.

The expansion of the slave trade to the Americas (i.e., South America, Caribbean and Central America).

The advent of slavery in the American Colonies of 1613 in Jamestown, Virginia.

The differences of the slave trade in South America, the Caribbean, Central America and the United States of America.

The slave rebellions, Turner’s revolt of 1831; Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; and other revolts.

The first successful slave rebellion in Haiti, and the establishment of Haiti as the first Black Nation in the Western World.

The Jim Crow laws and their impact on African Americans.

Neo-Slavery and the push from emancipation from slavery in the Americas.

The abolitionist movements in the Americas.

The 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.

The legal abolishment of slavery with the 15th Amendment of 1865.

The education of African Americans during slavery.

The education of African Americans after the Emancipation and the constructional abolishment of slavery.

The impact of liberation movements in the world on rights and freedom of African Americans in the United States of America.

The role of the courts and the religious intuitions in redressing, protecting, and advocating for the rights of African Americans.

The Reconstruction and the role of African Americans during this era of American History.

The political developments in the African continent during this period of 1800-1900.



The Civil Rights Movement and its Impact on the Freedom and Legal Rights

of African Americans

The Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 gave legal rights to African Americans, including abolition of any vestige of slavery.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Amendment in 1972.

The Great Debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois.

The role of religion and the church during the Civil Rights era (Southern Christian Leadership Conference).

The role of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the Civil Rights movement.

The legal cases (i.e. Road to Brown, Brown vs. Board of Education, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Bakkle vs. Regents of California).

The Freedom struggles of Blacks in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the world.

The building of coalitions with Whites and other racial groups.

The role of women in the Civil Rights struggle (i.e., Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Susan Anthony, Angela Davis, Patricia Harris, Shirley Chisholm, May Angelou, Barbara Jordan, and others.)

The economic and political characteristics of the Civil Rights era.

The role of literature and communication for informing the population about Civil Rights (e.g., A Raisin in the Sun, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, “I have a Dream Speech” by Dr. Martin Luther King, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin).

The non-violent movement of the Civil Rights struggle in the U.S.A.

The Resistance to the Civil Rights movement by such groups as the Klu Klux Klan (KKK).

The role of politics, federal, state, and local governments in the protection of the rights of African Americans and all citizens.

The development of timelines for the Civil Rights Movement from 1771 to the present day.



Contemporary Issues Impacting Africans and African Americans

The contributions of Ancient and Contemporary Africans to the world in all areas.

The contributions of African Americans to the United States of America in all areas, (i.e., science, arts, music, literature, mathematics, social studies, and other areas).

The Harlem Renaissance as a critical period for defining African American culture.

The Soul of African Americans as portrayed in the “MA’AT” and “Kwanzaa”.

The Negro History Week in 1926; African American History Month and the move to integrate African American History throughout the school and calendar year.

The economic power of African Americans, including the spending power, the development of “Black” businesses; and the role of the “Black” institutions of higher education in shaping the human capital of African Americans.

The freedom struggles of people of African descent in the Caribbean, South and Central America, and the World.

The celebration of Kwanzaa with other celebrations during the month of December and other months.

The development of timelines of African and African American contributions from 50,000 B.C. to the present time. A pictorial documentation will enhance learning in this content area.

The focus on current world issues involving Africa, Caribbean, South and Central America and North America providing opportunities to compare and contrast the cultures and statues of African descent peoples.

Florida and the Caribbean: Florida’s Challenges and Choices

How did the Native Americans relate to freed Africans and enslaved Africans?

How did the Florida experience impact the lives of people of Caribbean descent?

How can we support a multicultural and ethnically diverse community in Florida?

What economic challenges impact our community today?

What were the Florida immigration patterns of people from the Caribbean, Central and South America who came to the United States?

What were the contributions of the people of the Caribbean, Central and South America to Florida and the United States of America?

How did cultural pluralism develop as a concept in multicultural education in Florida?

What are the Caribbean cultures and their influence on the cultures of Florida?

What was the nature of the struggle by African Americans for equity and social justice in the state of Florida and in the United States?

What are the holidays and festivals of the peoples in the Caribbean, Central and South American cultures?

How was the resistance to slavery and colonialism from the people in the Caribbean (especially Haiti) demonstrated?

How was Haiti involved in helping the resistance movements in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean?

Miss O’Connor / African American Studies / African American Literature – List of Books



Below you will find a list of books that you may choose from for the independent reading portion of class. You may purchase this book on or check it out from the school library or from the public library. This book will remain IN OUR CLASSROOM. You are required to have this book by Tuesday September 8th. If you prefer to read another book, you must first get my approval (Please see me after class, or email me with the book choice.)

  1. “Assata: An Autobiography” Assata Shakur

  2. “Song of Solomon” Toni Morrison

  3. Visions for Black Men Naim Akbar

  4. Dreams from My Father Barak Obama

  5. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe

  6. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglas Frederick Douglas

  7. Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston

  8. When ChickenHeads Come Home to Roost Joan Morgan

  9. The Autobiography of Malcom X Alex Haley

  10. Invisible Man Ralph Ellison

  11. The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison

  12. Alice Walker The Color Purple

  13. Blues People Leroi Jones

  14. Miseducation of the Negro Carter G Woodson

  15. The Souls of Black Folk W.E.B. Dubois

  16. Kindred Octavia Butler

  17. Makes Me Wanna Holler; a Young Black Man in America Nathan McCall

  18. Up From Slavery Booker T Washington

  19. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Harriet Jacobs

  20. Go Tell it On The Mountain James Baldwin

  21. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou

  22. Cane Jean Toomer

  23. Native Son Richard Wright

  24. Uncle Toms Children Richard Wright

  25. I Put a Spell on You Nina Simone

  26. The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings Olaudah Equiano

  27. The Ways of White Folks Langston Hughes

  28. A Raisin In The Sun Lorraine Hansbury

  29. Beloved Toni Morrison

  30. The Fire Next Time James Baldwin

  31. The Wretched of the Earth Frantz Fanon

  32. Soul on Ice Eldridge Cleaver

  33. Miles – The Autobiography of Miles Davis Miles Davis

  34. Black Boy Richard Wright

  35. Colored People Henry Louis Gates Jr.

  36. Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane

  37. Manchild in the Promise Land Claude Brown

  38. If Beale Street Could Talk James Baldwin

  39. Nile Valley Contributions to Civilizations Anthony Browder

  40. Roots Alex Haley

  41. Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup

  42. Faces at the Bottom of the Well Derrick Bell

  43. Fences August Wilson





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