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History 468
African American History

Fall 2015

Instructor: Steve Estes
Class: M/W 2:00-3:50 pm
Classroom: Darwin 31
Office: Stevenson 2070 D
Office Hours: M/W 9:45-10:30;
T 1:30-3:00

Alfred R. Waud. "The First Vote"
Harper's Weekly
(Nov. 16, 1867)
Library of Congress LC-USZ62-19234 (5-21)

This course focuses on the struggle of African Americans to become free and equal citizens in the United States. We begin with a brief overview of West African society before European contact with special emphases on politics, culture, and family life. We will then analyze the effect of European contact and the imposition of chattel slavery as Africans were taken forcibly to the New World. African cultural carryovers and the creation of an African American identity in early colonial America will be the next subjects of the course. We will trace the rise and fall of antebellum plantation slave economy in the South and the growth of the free black population and the abolitionist movement in the North. We will conclude the class with the black struggle for equality in the twentieth century through the civil rights movement and beyond.

Roy Finkenbine, Sources of the African American Past
Henry Louis Gates, Classic Slave Narratives
Eugene Robinson, Disintegration
Michael A. Ross, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case
Martha Sandweiss, Passing Strange
Jason Sokol, All Eyes are Upon Us

This course meets twice a week. Regular attendance is crucial, because I have not assigned a textbook that gives a comprehensive overview of the course. For students who feel that a textbook would be helpful, however, I have placed From Slavery to Freedom by John Hope Franklin and Alfred Moss, Jr., on reserve in the library. The midterm test and the final exam will be based on information covered in course lectures, discussions, and outside readings. At the beginning of the class, you will choose either 1) to write 3-4 page book reviews on two of the outside readings or 2) to write a eight-page research paper on any topic in African-American history. There will also be six short quizzes on the outside readings, which will be factored in with classroom participation.

Assignments & Exams:
Book Reviews: If you choose the book review option, you will do 3-4 page papers on two of the outside readings assigned to the class. Papers must be typed double-spaced with 12-point font and normal margins. Essays will answer a broad question that will be given out in class two weeks before papers are due. Students will turn in papers before class on the day we discuss the outside readings.

Research Paper: If you choose the research paper option, you will write a paper based on at least five primary sources (newspaper articles, magazine articles, films, songs, letters, diaries, etc. produced during the time period you are researching) and at least five secondary sources (scholarly books or journal articles, not included on our reading list). This paper should be eight pages long, double-spaced, and it should focus on a significant event, person, or place related to African American history. For example, you might focus on the civil rights movement in Mobile, Alabama or children’s experiences during the Middle Passage or black soldiers’ experiences during the Spanish American War or a black novelist during the Harlem Renaissance. Whatever you choose to write about, you should run the idea by me well before the paper is due.

Quizzes/Discussions: There will be six in-class discussions of the outside readings over the course of the semester. Students should have completed the assigned sections of each reading before the discussion and should be prepared to contribute to a conversation about the major themes covered by the author. At the beginning of each in-class discussion, there will be a short quiz of multiple-choice questions about the book. The grades on these quizzes and quality of discussion participation determine students’ grades for this portion of the class.

Midterm and Final Exam: These exams are broken into two parts. The first section requires students to answer four out of seven short answer questions describing historical figures, organizations, and events covered in lectures, presentations, or outside readings. On the second section of the exams, students will choose one of two essay questions that cover larger themes addressed in the course. The essays on the final may be cumulative.

Extra Credit (“The Wire”): Watch at least one season of the show “The Wire,” which is available at the multimedia desk of the SSU library. Write a 2-page (single-space) response paper discussing the role of race relations in Baltimore, according to the show. Does this show sensationalize inner-city life? How does this show compare to other cops-and-robbers dramas? How does the show compare to the musical genre of gangsta rap that was popular in the 1990s and first decade of the 2000s? The extra credit assignment is worth up to five additional points on your quiz/discussion average.

All assignments will be graded on a 100-point scale. The grading breakdown will be:
Book Reviews/Research Paper 30%
Midterm 20%
Final Exam 20%
Quizzes/Discussion 30%

Course Schedule

Section I: From Slavery to Freedom





Course Introduction & The Atlantic World



Colonial Afro-America



Independence Without Freedom: The Revolution



Labor Day



Slavery First-Hand (Discussion)

Classics: Intro & Equiano


Black Communities in the Early Republic



Research Day

No Class


Becoming African Americans (Discussion and QUIZ)

Sources: Chs.1-4


King Cotton & Slavery in the Deep South



A Tenuous Freedom North & South



Slave Resistance & Rebellions

Sources: Ch. 5-6


Abolition in Black & White



Slave Narratives: History/Literature (Discussion & QUIZ)

Douglass & Jacobs


Runaway Sectionalism



The Civil War & Emancipation



Reconstruction on the Rise

Sources: Ch. 7-8


Reconstruction on the Run



Freedom and the Law (Discussion & QUIZ)

New Orleans Kidnapping



Study Notes & Books

Section II: From Freedom to Equality





Segregation & Life Behind the Veil

Sources: Ch. 9-11


The Great War & the Great Migration



The Harlem Renaissance



Veterans Day

No Class


Crossing the Color Line (Discussion & QUIZ)

Passing Strange (Skip 2 & 7)


The Greater Depression and WW II



The Movement



Thanksgiving Holiday

No Class


Northern Mystique (Discussion & QUIZ)

All Eyes are Upon Us


Black Power & the Conservative Counter-Revolution

Research Paper and EC Due


Hip Hop America

Sources: Ch. 16-17


Black Americas (Discussion & QUIZ)



Final Exam (2:00 — 3:50 pm)

Study Notes & Books