Dr. William Maxwell
Nature and Scope
It is simply not possible to do justice to the rich and complex history of African Americans in the United States in one semester. Even year-long survey courses tend to become chronological gallops through almost 400 years of history much like the U.S. History survey courses some of you have taken that never seem to get past World War ll.
Our objective in this course is to critically examine some of the central issues in the study of Afro-American life. By Afro-American life I mean the history and the culture of people of African descent in the Americas. We shall concentrate on the population in the United States both because that is where we are and because we have to limit ourselves in some way. But we will have to attend to some questions about other parts of the world. First because there are important comparative questions on which we can gain insight by referring to other places; second, because the histories of black people in Africa, North America, the Caribbean and Latin America are interconnected.
Significantly, Africans, Europeans and Asians who came to the United States did not lead lives isolated from each other or from Native Americans. One consequence of this is that we cannot understand the history and culture of any of these groups in isolation. In particular, these populations interbred with one another and, as a result, the question of how people are assigned to board "racial" categories has been a political, social, and legal issue throughout the last five hundred years.
This course will argue that African Americans have made a disproportionate contribution to the development of a distinctive American culture and to shaping the American political economy from colonial times to the present.
1. Richard Newman and Marcia Sawyer, Everybody Say Freedom. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.
2. Jonathan Earle, The Routledge Atlas of African American History, New York: Routledge, 2000.
3. Article reprints to be distributed in class. List attached.
John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.
Requirements and Assignments
Students are expected to be on time and to attend class regularly because lectures, discussions, videos, CD's, tapes and field trips provide vital additional information and analysis of the issues raised by your readings and because 10 percent of your grade is based upon your participation.
Written and Oral Assignments
1. Two 90 minute essay and short answer exams.
First Exam - .
Second Exam - 60% of grade (30% each exam)
2. A Written Assignment selected from choices below = 30% of grade
a) Critical essay in words and photographs or, text and video, of our field trip to Harlem.
b) Critical review essay of two "Suggested Films"
c) Critical review essay on the Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) "Migration Series" Paintings at the Whitney Museum, Madison Avenue and 75th Street
d) Compare the coverage of a person, event or topic of your choice in Newman and Sawyers' Everyone Say Freedom to the coverage in J.H. Franklin's, From Slavery To Freedom or Lerone Bennett Jr's, Before the Mayflower.
e) Write a standard research paper on a topic of your
choice to be approved by me.
f) Create an original map; graph; set of tables, CD, tape, film or computer program, describing a significant event or development in African American life. See Atlas for examples.
* Essays and papers are to be 6 to 8 typewritten double-spaced pages in length (1,200 to 1,800 words)
3. Participation in class discussions and a required field
trip to the Schomburg Center for
Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd., Harlem, N.Y., NY 10037.
Date will be announced. > = 10% of grade
4. Recommended Films - to be viewed outside of class hours.
Topic I (An Introduction to African American History),
Video, "We Shall Overcome" (20 min.)
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom, Forward, Introduction.
Atlas, Forward, Introduction
Natalie Angier, "Do Races Differ?" Article #1.
John Wilford, "Artifacts in Africa " Article #2.
Topic II African Roots and The Slave Trade
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom pp. 2-11, Atlas, p.14-25, 70-75. "Artifacts in Africa " Article #2
George Rawick Article #3 "The Role of Africa " David B. Davis Article #4 "Slavery "
Topic III The Origins of Slavery in the U.S.A, A White
Race, Slavery and The Founding Fathers
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom, pp. 11-62.
Atlas pp. 26-39
Olaudah Equiano, (Gustavas Vassa) "Narrative of the
", article #5. Winthrop D. Jordan, "Origins of American
Slavery", article #6. David Shipler, " Jefferson Is America",
Video, BBC, " A Son of Africa: The Slave Narrative of Olaudah Equiano" (28 min.)
Suggested Film, "Amistad".
Topic IV Plantation Slavery, "Free" Blacks,
Slave Resistance and Rebellion, The Abolitionist Movement and The Expansion
of Slavery.Readings: Everybody Say Freedom, pp. 63-100, Atlas, pp. 40-63.
George Rawick, "Master and Slave", article #8, Frederick Douglass,
"Narrative of the Life
", article #9
Jacqueline Jones, " Labor of Love ", article #10.
Video, PBS, "Frederick Douglass: When the Lion Wrote History" (90 min).
Suggested Film , "Sankofa"
First Exam -
Topic V The War for African American Liberation: (AKA, The Civil War)
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom, pp. 100-110. Atlas pp.
64-65, 76-77. James McPherson, "The Heart of the Matter," article
#11. Daniel Sutherland, "A Civil Ending," article #12.
Suggested Film ,"Glory".
Topic VI Reconstruction, Reunion and Reaction, The
Strange Career of Jim Crow,
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom, pp. 110-166. Atlas, pp.
78-79, 94-101. Lerone Bennett Jr., "The Second Time Around.," article
Video: BBC, "Sold Down the River", (Abolition: Broken Promises) (50 min).
Topic VII "The Souls of Black Folk": Washington, Garvey, Du Bois and "The Color Line", 1890's- 1920's.
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom, pp. 154-157, 147-149,
211-214. Atlas, pp. 102-105.
Video: "W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices," California Newsreel (116 min)
Topic VIII The Harlem Renaissance and The Politics of African American Culture. (1920's - 1945)
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom, pp. 167-244. Atlas, pp. 81-83, 118-125.
Topic IX The Second Reconstruction: Civil Rights and The Black Revolution, 1950's-Present.
Readings: Everybody Say Freedom pp. 244-301. Atlas pp. 84-93, 108-117, 126-131.
Martin Luther King, "Non-Violence" and "I
Have A Dream." articles #14. Russell Baker, "The Bravest and The Best"article
#15. Michael Erick Dyson, "Who Speaks For Malcolm X?"article #16.
Malcolm X, "The Ballot or The Bullet", article #17. Louis Farrakhan,
"Excerpts from Speech
" article #18.
Video: ABC News, "Malcolm X". ( 50 minutes )
Suggested Films, "Malcolm X" and "Bulworth".
NOTE WELL - LATE PAPERS WILL BE GRADED EITHER PASS (C-) OR FAIL (F).
"MAKE-UP" EXAMS ARE OFFERED ONLY IN VERY EXCEPTIONAL CASES and REQUIRE AN OFFICIALLY DOCUMENTED REASON FOR THE ABSENCE ON THE DAY OF THE SCHEDULED EXAM.
ARTICLE REPRINTS FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY
1. Natalie Angier, "Do Races Differ? Not Really,
DNA Shows" NY Times (8/22/2000).
2. John Wilford, "Artifacts in Africa Suggest an Earlier Modern Human," NY Times (12/2/01) p.1.
3. George P. Rawick, "The Role of Africa in the Making of the American Black People," The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography: Series One, Volume 1, From Sundown to Sun Up: The Making of the Black Community (1972).
4. David Brion Davis, "Slavery-White, Black, Muslim, Christian," N.Y. Review (7-5-01).
5. Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797) From The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789).
6. Winthrop D. Jordan, "Modern Tensions and the Origins
of American Slavery,"
Journal of Southern History, XXIII (February, 1962).
7. David Shipler, "Jefferson Is America - And America is Jefferson," NYT (Apr. 12, 1993).
8. George P. Rawick, "Master and Slave," The
American Slave: A Composite Autobiography:
Series One, Volume 1 From Sundown to Sunup: The Making of the Black Community (1972).
9. Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick
Douglass, An American Slave,
Written by Himself (1845).
10. Jacqueline Jones, "My Mother Was Much of a Woman,"
Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow:
Black Women, Work, and the Family, From Slavery to the Present (1985).
11. James McPherson, "The Heart of the Matter," N.Y. Review (October 23, 1997).
12. Daniel Sutherland, "A Civil Ending," N.Y. Review (7-8-01).
13. Lerone Bennett, Jr., "The Second Time Around," Ebony (September, 1995).
14. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Non-Violence" (1957) "I Have A Dream" (1963).
15. Russell Baker, "The Bravest and The Best," N.Y. Review (April 9, 1998).
16. Michael Eric Dyson, "Who Speaks for Malcolm X?" N.Y.T. (Nov. 29, 1992).
17. Malcolm X, "The Ballot or The Bullet" (1964).
18. Louis Farrakhan, "Excerpts from Speech at the Million Man March" (Oct. 16, 1995).