Ohio University Department of African American Studies

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Ohio University

Department of African American Studies

Spring Semester 2014

AAS 4900: Black insurgency, revolution, and the Vietnam War

T, TH: 4:35-5:55 p.m., Gordy Hall 205

Instructor: Ronald J. Stephens, Ph. D. Email: stepher2@ohio.edu

Office: 31 S. Court Street, Suite 135 Office: (740) 597-3069

Hours: Tuesdays 2-4 p.m. & by appointments Fax: (740) 593-0671
This course explores some of the ways in which strategies and formative aspects of war and revolution facilitated the coordination of the black rebellions of the 1960s, including widespread practices of police brutality, housing discrimination, and inadequate educational facilities. The course also demonstrates how black insurgency during the Vietnam War and black revolutionary activity during the Civil Rights Movement resulted in rebellions on the streets of urban America as well as internationally through the activities of Muhammad Ali, Robert F. Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to end the war. The course will demonstrate to students that war is socially formative and involve the interplay between international conflict and racial upheaval in the domestic political sphere.
Learning objectives

Considering the fact that African Americans were engaged in two wars during the 1960s, an internal (domestic) and external (international) dynamic, learning objectives for this course will be

  1. To encourage learning about the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the objections of African American civil rights leaders who called for an end of the war

  2. To provide a basic understanding of case studies about African American leader figures who opposed US participation in the war in Vietnam, and to understand the impact of their resistance

  3. To gain an understanding of the relationship among ideology, language, identity, and race;

  4. To acquire an understanding of the historiography of African American history before and after the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Power Era.

  5. To gain an understanding of critical thinking, writing and oral communication skills through writing assignments and mock conference paper presentations

Required texts

Lawrence Allen Eldridge Chronicles of a Two-Front War: Civil Rights and Vietnam in the African American Press, Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011.

William L. Van Deburg. New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965-1975, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Required electronic readings:

Robert F. Williams, “Listen, Brother Pamphlet, 1966

Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Time to Break Silence,”
Fred Halstead, “The teach-ins: Ann Arbor, Washington, Berkeley,” in Out Now!: A Participant’s Account of the Movement in the U.S. Against the Vietnam War. New York: Pathfinder, 1978, 73-94.
Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham, “The Induction,” in The Greatest: My Own Story. New York: Random House, 1975, 155-181.
Gary S. Sprayberry, “Student Radicalism and the Antiwar Movement at the University of Alabama, in Rebellion in black and white: southern student activism in the 1960s, edited by Robert Cohen and David J. Snyder, 148-170.
James E. Westheider, “Antiwar Sentiment and Black Disillusionment,” in Brothers in Arms: The African American Experience in Vietnam. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 63-79.
David Chalmers, “The Antiwar Movement,” in And the Crooked Places Made Straight: The Struggle for Social Change in the 1960s. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 118-134.

Audio (documentaries and broadcasts)

  • Berkeley in the Sixties

  • Radio Free Dixie broadcast on the Vietnam War with Robert F. Williams, in the Milton Henry Audio Collection, Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, 1963.

  • Robert Cohen. Let It Burn, April 22, 1968.

  • Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power. A Presentation of Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 2005. www.newsreel.org


4 sets of presentations & discussion questions (3-4 pages each) 20%

Conference presentation, paper and abstract (10-12 pages) 20%

Midterm examination 20%

Final examination 20%

Attendance – mandatory 20%

Descriptions of and requirements for completing assignments

  1. Group Presentation & Discussion Questions (200 points): This includes successful completion of 4 sets of discussion questions (approximately 3-to-4 pages each). This set of assignments is worth 20% of your final grade or 200 points.

  1. Conference presentation, paper and abstract (200 points): For this assignment the focus will be on analytical writing and effective oral delivery of their research findings. The writing of this essay should provide a balanced perspective regarding your use and review of the relevant scholarly literature, analysis of phenomenon under investigation, and knowledge of the collective experiences, battles for citizenship rights, treatments, reactions and struggles of people of African descent in 20th and 21st centuries of U.S. history. This assignment will be worth 20% of your final grade or up to 200 points.

  1. Midterm examination (200 points): The midterm examination will consist of two essay questions. It is worth 20% of your final grade or 200 points.

  1. Final examination (200 points). The final examine will consist of two essay questions that will be drawn from lectures, video presentations, and the readings. The final examination will be worth 20% of your final grade or 200 points.

  1. Attendance (200 points). No excused absences other than medical documentation from a physician or university-related events/trips cleared with me two weeks in advance. No exceptions.

OU grade scale Final grades according to points earned

A+ A+ 1000-990

A A 989-940

A- A- 939-900

B+ B+ 899-870

B B 869-840

B- B- 839-800

C+ C+ 799-770

C C 769-740

C- C- 739-690

D D 680-650


Critical notes

This course recognizes and observes Ohio University’s regulations regarding noncredit withdrawal, Pass/Fail policies, and class attendance policies regarding religious holidays.

In addition, if you have a disability that will require special accommodation(s), please contact me immediately. Please also provide a copy of an official letter confirming your disability by the third week of the semester.

Schedule of Activities


T 14 Course introduction
TH 16 Kennedy and covert warfare against North Vietnam

T 21 U.S. involvement in Vietnam: the Johnson Administration

TH 23 Meet Athens Veterans

T 28 Muhammad Ali Lecture

Read “The Induction,” pp. 155-181

DVD Viewing: TBA

TH 30 Group presentation & discussion questions

T 4 Robert F. Williams and the Vietnam War

Read Listen Brother; & Westheider, 63-79

VHS Clip Viewing: Let It Burn

Radio Free Dixie broadcast about black troops and the war, 1963

TH 6 Group presentation & discussion questions

T 11 Guest Presentation John Williams

DVD Viewing: Negroes with Guns

TH 13 Antiwar Movement Protests

DVD Viewing: Berkeley in the Sixties

Sprayberry, pp. 148-170 & Chalmers, pp. 118-134

T 18 Antiwar Movement Teach-Ins

Read Halstead, pp. 73-94

TH 20 Group presentation & discussion questions

Midterm examination study guide

T 25 Guest presentation: TBA

TH 27 Midterm examination

2-8 spring recess

T 11 Individual thesis statement conference

TH 13 Individual thesis statement conference

T 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Vietnam War

Read “A Time to Break Silence”

DVD Clip Viewing: TBA

Abstract due

TH 20 Group presentation & discussion questions

T 25 Black Power, Manhood, and the Military Experience

TH 27 Black Power, Manhood, and the Military Experience

T 1 Nixon and U.S. Withdrawal from North Vietnam

TH 3 Kissinger’s Secret Negotiations with North Vietnam

T 8 Widespread antiwar demonstrations throughout the U.S.

TH 10 Widespread antiwar demonstrations throughout the U.S.

T 15 Conference paper and presentation

TH 17 Conference paper and presentation

T 22 Conference paper and presentation

TH 24 Conference paper and presentation

T 29 Final examination at 4 pm

Course policies

  1. Late assignments will not be accepted and/or graded unless you received advanced approval. Failure to complete an assignment on time will result in a zero for the assignment.

  1. All papers must be typed in 10 or 12-point font, stapled, with standard 1 margin, double-spaced with standard spacing between paragraphs. The quality of written work (i.e. grammar, punctuation, coherent argument, MLA format, spelling, neatness and appearance, proper documentation of evidence, etc.) will affect your grade for each assignment. Proofread all papers before turning them in, and keep a copy for your records.

  1. No text messaging while class is in session.

  1. Any concerns about grades should be raised in writing within one week after a grade has been assigned. All requests for grade re-evaluations should address the criteria stated upfront that will be used to grade papers. All requests should be put in writing. Please do not say how hard you’ve worked on a paper. Rather explain how your paper meets explicit assignment requirements and how you did not receive a fair grade.

  1. Academic misconduct, including cheating, plagiarizing, and deliberately interfering with the work of others, will result in an automatic F. Plagiarizing means representing the work of someone else (such as another student or an author of a book or article) as your own. If you use the ideas or words of someone else, cite/reference the source of the original information in your writing. Invented or plagiarized work may result in possible disciplinary action at the department, college or University level.

  1. Unprofessional behavior and incivility in the classroom are considered to be violations of Ohio University’s Code of Ethical and Professional Conduct. The professor will not hesitate to report violators of the Code. You are expected to be knowledgeable of what acts constitute a violation of the Code.

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