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History 468
African American History

Fall 2013

Instructor: Steve Estes
Class: T/Th 10:00-11:50 pm
Classroom: Salazar 2013
Office: Stevenson 2070 D
Office Hours: T/Th 2:30-4:00
steve.estes@sonoma.edu
707.664.2424

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

Overview:
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.

Readings:
Lalita Cademy, Cane River
Roy Finkenbine, Sources of the African American Past
Henry Louis Gates, Classic Slave Narratives
Eugene Robinson, Disintegration
Martha Sandweiss, Passing Strange
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns

Requirements:
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 7-8 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.

Grading:
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

Date

Topic

Assignment

8.20

Course Introduction & The Atlantic World

 

8.22

Colonial Afro-America

 

8.27

Independence Without Freedom: The Revolution

 

8.29

Slavery First-Hand (Discussion)

Classics: Intro & Equiano

9.03

Black Communities in the Early Republic

 

9.05

Becoming African Americans (Discussion and QUIZ)

Sources: Chs.1-4

9.10

King Cotton & Slavery in the Deep South

 

9.12

A Tenuous Freedom North & South

 

9.17

Slave Resistance & Rebellions

Sources: Ch. 5-6

9.19

Abolition in Black & White

 

9.24

Slave Narratives: History/Literature (Discussion & QUIZ)

Douglass & Jacobs

9.26

Runaway Sectionalism

 

10.01

The Civil War & Emancipation

 

10.03

Reconstruction on the Rise

Sources: Ch. 7-8

10.08

Reconstruction on the Run

 

10.10

Research Day

No Class

10.15

Slavery and Freedom (Discussion & QUIZ)

Cane River

10.17

Midterm

Study Notes & Books

Section II: From Freedom to Equality

Date

Topic

Assignment

10.22

Segregation & Life Behind the Veil

Sources: Ch. 9-11

10.24

The Great War & the Great Migration

 

10.29

The Harlem Renaissance

 

10.31

Crossing the Color Line (Discussion & QUIZ)

Passing Strange (Skip 2 & 7)

11.05

The Greater Depression

 

11.07

World War II

 

11.12

The Movement

 

11.14

Eyes on the Prize

 

11.19

The Long Migration (Discussion & QUIZ)

Warmth of Other Suns

11.21

Black Power & the Conservative Counter-Revolution

 

11.26

Hip Hop America

Sources: Ch. 16-17

11.28

Thanksgiving Holiday

No Class

12.03

Race in the Age of Obama

Research Paper and EC Due

12.05

Black Americas (Discussion & QUIZ)

Disintegration

12.10

Final Exam (11:00 am — 12:50 pm)

Study Notes & Books