AMS 315 • Civil Rights and Black Power: History, Memory and Culture-W
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
When most people remember the Civil Rights movement, their first thoughts typically turn to central figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., or to specific events such as the 1963 March on Washington or the attempts to integrate Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. When people remember the Black Power movement, it is often through images like a black fist in the air or Angela Davis's Afro. This interdisciplinary American Studies course seeks to investigate the ways in which both individuals and the nation as a whole--through our shared popular culture of newspapers, magazines, photographs, television, documentaries films, and most importantly, music--remember and historicize these interrelated social movements. The class will both explore and complicate what we will refer to as the "master-narrative" of Civil Rights in an attempt to understand more clearly the relationship between history and memory, and to reveal the connections between Civil Rights and Black Power from the 1950s to the present.
Since this is a writing component course, in addition to close, daily readings of assigned texts and critical engagement with those texts through discussion and presentations, students will also be required to synthesize and analyze the material through various in-class and take home writing assignments. The course will be divided into the following four units, and will consist of a combination of lectures, class discussions, and occasional group work. Unit 1: Exploring the Master-Narrative: We will kick of the semester with an investigation into the meta-narrative of Civil Rights and Black Powers and the ways in which individuals remember the movement. Unit 2: From Civil Rights to Black Power? We will interrogate the declension model of Civil Rights history through critical readings and discussions of recent works that have shown that connections between Civil Rights and Black Power existed well before the late 60s. Unit 3: Challenging the Master-Narrative: After having established the master-narrative of these movements and the early roots of Black Power, we will investigate a wide range of lesser-known figures and often ignored grassroots campaigns of the Civil Rights movement through a critical investigation of both history and memory. Unit 4: Black Power Politics & Culture: We will end the semester by considering the many different political and cultural representations of Black Power, as well as the significance of these movements within the broader history of the nation and the ramifications of these movements for our contemporary context.
Manning Marable, Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990 (2nd edition). Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991. Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s, Edited by Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer, New York: Bantam Books, 1991. Course packet, including excerpts from oral histories, autobiographies, speeches, and memoirs.