Canisius College, Fall 2010, TR 8:30 am-9:45 am, Old Main 223
Dr. Bruce Dierenfield CT607 (888-2683) email@example.com
Office hours: MW 8:30 am-2:30 pm, TR 11:30 am-2 pm, F 11 am-2:30 pm & by appointment “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is a history course on the post-World War II black civil rights movement, arguably the most important reform in American history. It will trace the origin and development of the struggle as it occurred on both the national and local levels. The course aims to evaluate the political and socioeconomic plight of African Americans and to explore the ways in which prominent individuals, grass roots groups, women, newspaper editors, legislators, judges, and presidents advanced or resisted racial justice. Particular attention will also paid to the critical events of the civil rights movement, such as the Brown decision, the Montgomery bus boycott, the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, the Greensboro sit-ins, the Freedom Rides through the Deep South, the Albany Movement, Project Confrontation in Birmingham, Freedom Summer, the Selma-to-Montgomery march, and the wave of reaction to perceived negligible progress in the form of black nationalism and urban riots. The course will conclude by considering the status of African Americans in today’s society. Several guest speakers are planned, and an optional trip to the Deep South will take place over Spring Break.
Develop a clear understanding of the broad themes of the civil rights movement.
Acquire the ability to evaluate historical evidence, including news articles, oral history, and autobiographical accounts.
Improve communications skills through structured discussion and writing.
Learning Goals & Objectives for History Majors
Goal I: History majors will develop knowledge of historical content characterized by
both breadth and depth.
Objectives: Students will demonstrate:
1. A basic knowledge of the history of the United States, Europe, and one other geographic region
(Africa, Asia, or Latin America)
2. A detailed knowledge of the history of the specific chronological or thematic areas they
choose to study.
Goal II: History majors will develop skills in historical writing.
Objectives: Students will demonstrate ability to:
1. Compose a chronological narrative.
2. Ask a historical question, construct a thesis, and support it with historical evidence.
3. Locate and evaluate historical evidence in a variety of primary & secondary sources.
4. Use citation practices appropriate to the historical profession to document evidence found in a
variety of sources.
Goal III: History majors will learn to think historically.
Objectives: Students will be able to:
1. Assess the significance of events, ideas, or artifacts in their historical context.
2. Distinguish cause and effect and recognize multiple causality in history.
3. Recognize and evaluate different historical interpretations.
Senior History majors must email their papers to me, as well as submit them in hard copy.
The course will be taught largely chronologically and rest on three pillars--lecture, visual
presentations (esp. PowerPoint images & the award-winning Eyes on the Prize series), and discussion.
The requirements below are subject to change depending upon enrollment and student performance. All students are strongly encouraged to attend out-of-class lectures, contribute to class discussion, submit a short paper, and take the final exam. There are options with respect to the writing assignments.
Requirements (subject to change) Grading
Class quizzes (4) T FEB 9, R MAR 4, R MAR 25, T APR 27 40%
Attendance will be taken every class period with an attendance sheet. It is your responsibility to sign this sheet. If you do not sign it, you are not there. Except in unusual & justified circumstances (as determined by the instructor), you will be allowed three absences for whatever reason during the course of the semester. Grade penalties for excessive absences include course failure. If you will miss more than three classes, please inform me in advance of your absences.
Because of the disruption to the learning environment, students who are habitually late to class, who take a break during class, who leave class before formal dismissal, or who use cell phones, iPods, or other such electronic equipment during class will receive a stiff grade penalty.
Discussion (10 percent)
An indispensable part of the course will be class discussion. Students will be expected to complete the assigned readings on time and to discuss them in large group settings. Discussion grades will be made on the basis of instructor observation. Students are welcome to see the instructor about how to improve their performance in discussion.
Testing (70 percent)
There will be two types of testing in this course—(a) quizzes and (b) a final examination. The quizzes will consist of objective questions (mostly matching) and fill-in-the-blanks. The final exam, which will be given at the scheduled time during final exam week, will consist of objective questions (matching, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, and the like), and an essay question or two chosen from several choices. A detailed study guide for the final exam will be distributed about a week before the final exam. Part of the final exam will include questions from front & back matter in the text, e.g., glossary, chronology, maps, and who’s who.
As of now, there will be three speakers on the Civil Rights Movement this semester, including two veteran activists and a prize-winning historian. One activist will appear during class time, and students should attend at least one of the other presentations outside of class, i.e., SNCC founder Diane Nash and/or historian Ray Arsenault. For extra credit (2½ percent), students may submit a 3-page typed summary of/reaction to the presentation. Deadline: one week after the lecture. Make sure to keep a copy of our paper, either on computer hard drive or as a photocopy.
W JAN 27
Legacy of the Civil Rights
Regis (7 pm)
T MAR 2
OM 223 (10 am)
Sa MAR 20
University of South Florida
OM 223 (10 am)
T APR 20
OM 223 (10 am)
Complete a 5-page paper on any of the following assignments:
A. Oral history
E. Pen biography
I. Personal interview
B. SNCC journal report
F. Book review
J. Battle of Ole Miss documents
C. Newspaper report
D. FBI investigation
G. Institutional history
H. Film review
K. Selma documents
M. Chatroom report
(A half grade bonus will be given for integrating at least two (2) sources,
e.g., an oral history and a biography.)
Drawing upon at least two published and/or online interviews of civil rights activists, examine one of the significant events of the movement. For example, you might look at the Montgomery bus boycott through the eyes of E.D. Nixon and Jo Ann Robinson.
Howell Raines, My Soul is Rested: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South, 1977
Henry Hampton, Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s, 1990
University of Southern Mississippi digital archive
Mississippi Digital Library
University of Virginia (Mississippi Burning: LBJ tapes & documents
Read three entire issues of Student Voice (SNCC’s journal), which is available on microfilm in the Canisius library, and then analyze what you discover. For example, you might address the kinds of topics that the journal presents, the journal’s editorial position, challenges faced by activists, and so on. Some issues of Student Voice can also be uploaded from www.crmvet.org/docs/sncc1.htm.
Study the challenge & violence of Freedom Summer (1964) by reading at least ten (10) articles that are held by Miami University in Ohio. See http://digital.lib.muohio.edu/fs/
Study the FBI’s investigation, infiltration, and harassment of individuals and groups promoting black civil rights, black nationalism, or white supremacy. There are several excellent books on the FBI’s war on black America, or one may go online at http://foia.fbi.gov/alpha.htm. The FBI’s website has information on Black Muslims, Stokely Carmichael, Bull Connor, Deacons for Defense and Justice, W.E.B. Du Bois, Medgar Evers, Fred Hampton, Highlander Folk School, Martin Luther King, Ku Klux Klan, Viola Liuzzo, Thurgood Marshall, MIBURN (Mississippi Burning), Elijah Muhammad, Huey Newton, Mack Charles Parker, Revolutionary Action Movement, Paul Robeson.
Write an overview of the life and civil rights activism/opposition of one of the following figures. While you may use internet sources, more weight will be given to the use of first-hand materials and reputable secondary works.
Women’s Political Council
White Supremacist Groups
Imperial Klans of America
National Association for the Supremacy of White People
United Klans of America
White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
White Citizens’ Councils
Watch one of the movies about the civil rights era, and then summarize & analyze what these historical dramas tell us about the civil rights movement and/or race relations in the mid-20th century. Other titles are certainly possible, but check with the instructor before proceeding.
Once Upon a Time . . .
When We Were Colored
Black Like Me
A Soldier’s Story
The Color Purple
Separate But Equal
Driving Miss Daisy
The Vernon Johns Story
Long Walk Home
Crisis at Central High
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Ghosts of Mississippi
4 Little Girls
Sins of the Father
Selma, Lord, Selma
In the Heat of the Night
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Locate & interview someone who participated in the civil rights movement, and write a 3-5 page report on your findings. You might, for example, interview a marcher, an organizer, a rioter, a student who was bused for racial reasons, and so on.
Battle of Ole Miss documents
Use the John F. Kennedy Library website to write a report on James Meredith’s integration of Ole Miss.
Go the Canisius library archives (2nd floor) and ask archivist Kathleen Delano to examine all of the materials relating to the trip that Canisius priests & students made in support of civil rights in Selma, Alabama, in March 1965. Using as many different kinds of documents as possible, write a report on what you learn.
Go online (https://list.mail.virginia.edu/mailman/listinfo/sncc-list) to “eavesdrop” on veterans of the civil rights movement as they reminisce about the movement and muse about the problems that remain unsolved. You may come across some significant veterans, including Julian Bond, Connie Curry, Gloria Richardson Dandridge, Joyce Ladner, Penny Patch, and Bob Zellner. Write a paper based on information presented and insights gleaned in this chatroom.
Papers whose characteristics mostly fit within one of the following categories will receive that corresponding grade. Note that a paper need not exhibit every characteristic of a category to receive the grade for that category.
The instructor takes grading seriously and uses several methods to determine quiz/test & paper grades. Do not tell the instructor the grade you “need.” You will receive the grade you have earned. That said, the instructor is certainly willing to discuss the grades assigned.
Papers, presentations, and final exams that are detailed, comprehensive, inclusive of relevant materials, and analytical, will be rewarded handsomely. The instructor reserves the right to make modest adjustments in numerically-derived final grades based on the student performance in the final exam and discussion.
No unsolicited work for extra credit will be accepted.
Students who do not complete all assignments and take the final exam will fail the entire course. Final grades will not be displayed publicly because federal law forbids it, and will only become available when the registrar posts them on-line. The instructor will not give students their final grade; that is the responsibility of the registrar. Students with questions about their final grades must see the instructor in his office; he will not respond to email queries about grading.
Papers, reports, and exams that are detailed, comprehensive, inclusive of relevant materials, and analytical, will be rewarded handsomely.
To support grades assigned, the instructor will provide commentary on written work and numerical scores, class ranking, and percentage of correct answers on quizzes. Students may inquire about their grades on any given assignment or about the course grade, but such requests must be made in person, rather than by email.
Cultural Enrichment (subject to availability)
A unique feature of this course will be the extraordinary opportunities offered for cultural enrichment. Everyone will be given an opportunity to attend at least one of the following performances/presentation:
F FEB 5
Su FEB 28
Sa MAR 6
UB’s Center for the Arts
Paul Robeson Theatre
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
Sa MAR 20 8:00 pm UB’s Center for the Arts Jazz with Wynton Marsalis Lincoln Center
W APR 7 8:00 pm UB’s Center for the Arts Buddy Guy Chicago rock guitarist
(Students interested in obtaining tickets must make a nonrefundable payment of $5/ticket.)
To tour many historic sites connected to the civil rights movement, there will be an unforgettable 9-day trip to the Deep South over spring break. [See rough itinerary below.] Several people who either witnessed or helped shape key events in the movement may meet our group. The Peter Canisius Distinguished Professorship in the African American Experience will subsidize much of the trip, including roundtrip airfare to Memphis, ground transportation (van), lodging, admission fees and tours, some dinners, and some entertainment. About ten (10) Canisius students will go on the trip. If more than ten students express interest in going, a lottery may be conducted. A nonrefundable deposit of $200 must be paid by F FEB 12th. Once the students have been chosen, there will be mandatory orientation sessions.
R APR 1 Buffalo-Memphis (jet) National Civil Rights Museum & Mason Temple
F APR 2 Memphis-Nashville Fisk University & American Baptist Seminary
S APR 3 Atlanta-Albany Martin Luther King’s home, church, grave
S APR 4 Albany-Montgomery Tuskegee University & Dexter Avenue Church
M APR 5 Selma & Birmingham Edmund Pettus Bridge & 16th Street Church
T APR 6 Tuscaloosa & Philadelphia Foster Auditorium
& murder route of Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman
W APR 7 Jackson & Mississippi Delta Medgar Evers’ home & Emmitt Till store
R APR 8 Oxford & Little Rock Ole Miss & Central High School
F APR 9 Little Rock-Buffalo (jet)
See this website for more information on civil rights sites:
The student who writes the best term paper will receive a free copy of a civil rights book of his/her choosing.
In the spirit of civil rights activism and as part of the College’s new emphasis on service/seamless learning, students may volunteer to (a) assist a local civil rights organization or (b) work on a social justice project. For specific options, please see Sr. Pat Brady of the Office of Service Learning for more details. All service must receive PRIOR approval from the instructor. It is important to remember that no one is required to undertake or complete this option and that you are NOT representing Canisius College. Students who complete at least 12 hours of service and submit a (brief) confirmatory letter from a supervisor, along with a typed report on time worked and action performed will receive a course bonus of 5 percent.