Office location: 309 Cooper House
Office Hours: Immediately after class in 217 Webster on W, 3:20-4:20, or by appointment
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Course Description: This course explores African American history since 1865 and introduces students to major debates in its interpretation. Students will read a range of historical voices reflecting the experiences of black men and women during Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow. We’ll use primary sources to understand how the Great Migration reshaped U.S. cities. We’ll consider how black communities transformed themselves in the wake of the Great Depression and Second World War and analyze the origins, strategies, and accomplishments of the civil rights and black power movements. Using the historical framework developed over the semester, students will analyze the persistence and reformulation of racial inequality at the beginning of the 21st century. Throughout the course, we’ll consider the varieties of black nationalist thought that have shaped African American politics and culture; the influence of African Americans’ struggle for full citizenship on other social movements; and, the explicit and implicit race, class, and gender politics of federal legislation concerning civil rights, labor rights, residential segregation, and suburbanization.
Assignments: One short paper (3-5 pages) incorporating an online database of historic black newspapers; a take-home midterm; three response papers; and, a take-home final. All written assignments should be submitted to me as an email attachment (Word File) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attendance and active participation in class discussion: 15%
Primary source paper: 15%
Response Papers: 15%
Readings: The following books are required and will be available for purchase at Amherst Books. Other required readings will be available on our course web site (https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/courses/1112S/BLST/BLST-241-1112S)
Thomas C. Holt Elsa Barkley Brown, and Thomas Patterson, Major Problems in African American History, vol. 2 From Freedom to Freedom Now, 1865-1990s (Wadsworth Publishing, 2000) ISBN-13: 978-0669462937
Davarian Baldwin, Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (The University of North Carolina Press, 2007) ISBN-13: 978-0807857991
Mary Francis Berry, My Face is Black is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (Vintage, 2006) ISBN-13: 978-0307277053 [Available as an E-book]
Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt (NYU Press, 2010) (ISBN-13: 978-0814743317) [Available as an E-book]
William L. Van DeBurg Modern Black Nationalism: From Marcus Garvey to Louis Farrakhan (New York University Press, 1997) (ISBN-13: 978-0814787892)
Holt and Brown’s Major Problems is a collection of primary sources in African American history and essays by major scholars in the field that will be assigned throughout the term. Please bring books and course web site materials to class to facilitate discussion.
Format: This is a discussion-driven course, although I may offer brief lectures from time to time to provide context for the assigned readings or to explore other issues. You should be prepared to participate in discussion during every class period.
Expectations: Regular attendance and class participation is mandatory. Please let me know when you won’t be in class and keep in mind that more than three absences will affect your grade. You must comply with Amherst College’s academic honesty policy. If you violate this policy, you will fail the course and possibly face other penalties. If you have questions about this, please ask me or consult https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/deanstudents/acadhonesty.
Disabilities: If you are a student with a documented disability, please see the instructor immediately so that all possible accommodations can be made; no accommodations will be made retroactively. Additional information can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/support/#disabilities LECTURE AND READING SCHEDULE January 23 (M): Introduction to African American History January25 (W): Unfinished Reconstruction
Van Deburg, Modern Black Nationalism, 1-18
Major Problems, 1-35
January 30 (M): Labor Control and Resistance in the Post-Bellum South
Major Problems, chapter 2, “The Work of Reconstruction,” 36-85
Major Problems, chapter 3, “Renegotiating African-American Life in the New South,” 87-96, 115-124
First response paper due. February 1 (W): Jim Crow and the Nadir
Mary Francis Berry, My Face is Black is True, 1-3 (6-92)
February 6 (M): Jim Crow and Civil Society
Mary Francis Berry, My Face is Black is True, 4-6 (93-170)
In class: Primary source analysis—lynching documents by Wells and Love.
Primary source assignment handed out and explained in class. February 8 (W): Beyond Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois: Varieties of Black Leadership in the early 20th Century
Major Problems, chapter 5, “Defining a Race Politics,”156-170
Michelle Rief, “Thinking Locally, Acting Globally: The International Agenda of African American Clubwomen, 1880-1940,” Journal of African American History 2004 (89) 3: 203-222
Second response paper due. February 13 (M): The Great Migration