African american studies program topics in african american studies

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Professor Maceo Crenshaw Dailey, Jr., Ph. D. Hist 3390/AFST 3390

Director of African American Studies Program Th., 4:30 p.m.-7:20 p.m.

Associate Professor, Department of History LART 323

Liberal Arts Building, Room 401 Telephone 747-8650




This course is an exploration into the wonderment and woes of being African American and female in the United States. How African American women are centered in Black communities, their movement toward “Womanism/Feminism”, and the many novel issues they face in seeking self-fullfillment will be the major topics covered. We will begin in Africa and end with First Lady Michelle Obama, and draw essentially on the precept of Alice Walker that “womanist is to feminist as purple to lavender.” Intersectionality as a concept for critical thinking and analysis also will guide our discussions and reading of literature on the experiences and history of African American women. Anna J. Cooper will be essential to our discourse in this regard. She, drawing on antecedent African American women, initiated the conceptual framework for future Black women to explore their lives more critically within and outside of the boundaries of the then so-called Negro community and critical calls to sisterhood during the embryonic stages of 20th century white feminism.

In this seminar course, we will read, review, and discuss the salient essays and writings by and about African American women. Each week, two students will lead our discussion on the assigned readings for the class period, and at the end of the course a presentation and seminar paper will be expected in which primary, secondary, and tertiary data and information will be used in the synthesis.

Classroom conduct, governance, and decorum must be adhered to as spelled out in the student handbook. As for grading, each student will be evaluated in three separate categories (each valued at 33 1/3 percent) for the classroom review of literature, presentation, and seminar paper. The grading scale is A=90-100; B=80-89;C=70-79; D=60-69; and F=59 or less. Three unexcused absences will result in an automatic subtraction of ten points from the student’s final grade.

A modest request: It is with some audacity and uncommon chutzpah that a Black male seeks to teach a course on African American women, but in my defense (if one is necessary) I come to the subject matter as learner and researcher, puzzled by the infinite mysteries and possibilities and sensitized by teaching stints at Smith and Spelman Colleges where women’s issues were in the forefront of daily discussions and directed the many institutional decisions pertaining to reform and equity. I am comforted by the awareness that two of the greatest Black leaders and thinkers W. E. B. Du Bois and Frederick Douglass, have been acknowledged as public male “feminists”, but not consoled by their private behavior that made the title honorific at best. My mother’s voice and proclamation—“Jesus keep me near the cross”—after some infraction in my household and my sisters’ declarations—“You have plucked my last nerve”—now serve more readily as reminders, albeit humorous ones, of the socialization process of Black women and their relationship to other women as well as men (Black or White). To the extent that I am accepted as the captain of the classroom (on this intellectual voyage), I anticipate cheers when I am right and gentle guidance when I am wrong, but all emanating critically from your voracious reading, vital reflections, vigorous discussions, and veneration for the importance of the subject matter!

The textbooks for the class are:

Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Words of Fire

Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters ,

Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, African American Women Confront The West

21 January: Introduction

28 January: Concepts and Commentaries

Guy-Sheftall, Words of Fire, pp. 1-23

Taylor/Moore, African American Women Confront The West, pp. 1-31

Rebecca Hankins, “Uncovering Black Feminist Writers, 1963-1990,” Reference

& Users Services Quarterly, vol. 48, #3, Spring, 2009, pp. 270-86

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement

In the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920

Jacqueline Bobo, The Black Studies Reader, pp.21-35, 47-91, 177-93,389-421

Johnnetta B. Cole, All American Women: Lines That Divide, Ties That Bind,pp. 307-70

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, et. al, Women In Africa and the African Diaspora, pp. 3-99,167-223

Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and

Violence Against Women Of Color,” 43 Stanford Law Review, 1241-

99 (l991).

4 February: Black Women of the Southwest and West

Taylor and Moore, African American Women (All)

Maceo C. Dailey and Kristine Navarro, Wheresoever My People Chance To Dwell

11 February: Black Women of East and South

Sterling, We Are Your Sisters? (All)

Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I a Woman (All)

Paula Giddings, When And Where I Enter (All)

Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the South and the

Advancement of the Race (All)

Nell I. Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (All)

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Sharon Harley, The Afro-American Woman: Struggles,

And Images (All)

18 February: Introduction To Feminism

Guy-Sheftall, Words of Fire (All)

25 February: Embrace and Repulsion

Vivian May, Anna J. Cooper: Visionary Black Feminist (All)

Angela Davis, Women, Race, and Class (All)

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within The Plantation Household

Kimberle Crenshaw, “A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine,

Feminist Theory and and Antiracist Politics,” The Politics of

Law, edited by David Kairys

Bell Hooks, Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism

Johnnetta B. Cole, All American Women: Lies That Divide, Ties That Bind, pp. 1-31,148-


4 March: Black Professionals, Politicians, Educators, and Entrepreneurs

A’lelia Bundles, On My Own Ground: Madame C. J. Walker (All)

Alice Walker, In Search Of Our Mothers’ Gardens (All)

Jacqueline Bobo, The Black Studies Reader, pp. 91-101

Sonia Sanchez, Homegirls and Handgrenades (All)

Max Sherman, Barbara Jordan: Speaking The Truth (All)

Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed (All)

11 March: Partnerships for Race and Gender Reform and Equity

Paula Giddings, Ida: A Sword Among Lions (All)

Jacqueline Bobo, The Black Studies Reader, pp. 101-177

25 March: Reproduction and Its Consequences

Denene Millner, What Brothers Think and What Sistahs Know

Joan Morgan, When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost

Dawn Daniel and Candace Sandy, Souls of My Sisters

Jacqueline Bobo, The Black Studies Reader, pp. 153-77,211-225,301-59

Johnnetta B. Cole, All American Women, pp.229-306

1 April: Michelle—First Lady

“What Michelle Can Teach Us,” Newsweek, 1 November 2008

“The Other Obama,” The New York, 10 March 2008 (Online)

“The Power of Michelle Obama,” New Yorker Magazine 23 March 2009 (On Line)

“Michelle Obama, “Teachers Are Key To A Successful Economy,” US. World

News, 7 January 2010

“Michelle Obama: A Woman of Influence,” Vogue, January 2009

Other Works of Interest

Sage (a scholarly journal on Black women)

Essence (a popular magazine on Black women’s issues)

Darlene Clark Hine et. al., Black Women In America (encyclopedia)

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