Teaching African-American History: A Preliminary Reading List and Schedule

After reviewing some of the suggestions for readings in post-1865 African-American history and looking through a few syllabi, I’ve come up with a tentative reading list and schedule.  Thoughts and critiques are most welcome and desperately needed….

Week 1: Intro to class.  Students write short essay on how they have experienced race.  Discuss concept of race as construct, etc.

Weeks 2-3: Reconstruction and survey.  Reading: Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow.

Week 4: Lynching.  Reading: something from Ida B. Wells-Barnett.  Students will also reflect on photos of lynching from Without Sanctuary.

Week 5: Turn-of-the-century strategy.  Reading: DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk, combined with an essay by Booker T. Washington.

Weeks 6-7: Living in or Leaving the South.  Reading: All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw.  Video: The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration

Weeks 8-9: The Civil Rights Movement in the South, in the North, and close to home.  Readings: case-study essays on civil rights activism in three different locations (trying to give students connection) and a critical assessment of the movement.

Weeks 10-11: Black Power and the Black Panthers.  Reading: Elaine Brown’s A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story.

Weeks 12-13: Black culture, black politics, black society: blacksploitation, R&B/Soul/Hip-Hop/Rap, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, Rodney King.  Readings: dunno yet.  Essays, but I’m not sure what.

Weeks 14-15: Post-Racial America [italicized, loaded question mark].  Reading: Obama’s Dreams From My Father

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3 thoughts on “Teaching African-American History: A Preliminary Reading List and Schedule

  1. Is the Reconstruction section going to be the place where slavery gets discussed? Seems like a tall order. (A perennial problem I guess; how do you deal with everything that happened Before We Begin?)

    “A Taste of Power” seems like a smart choice.

    For 12-13 I’d think about comparing the kernel of Jackson’s 1988 Dem convention speech, “Keep Hope Alive,” with — well, you won’t have to spell it out to anyone who was alive last year. Maybe that’s a discussion for the last two weeks. In the classroom you might be able to take all this someplace surprising where the blogs and media seldom/never manage to go.

  2. Rob,
    Yeah, I’ve got to stuff slavery into the Reconstruction section. Them’s the breaks, I guess, but the idea is that students will have taken (or will take) the pre-1865 course to get more on slavery. But I’m glad you brought it up; I’ll need to craft my lectures and discussion questions to get students thinking about the legacy of slavery.
    I like your idea re: Jackson’s convention speeches. I’ve put both his 84 and 88 speeches on the syllabus towards the end of the course, and I’ll bring them up again after we read _Dreams From My Father_.
    Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Student Eval Smack-Down: My Racist and Sexist Pedagogy? « The Academy's Bench Warmer

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