AMS 391 • Civil Rights in 19th and 20th Century U.S.
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Civil rights struggles characterize every decade of U.S. history, which suggests both the strengths and the weaknesses of democratic governance and institutions and the ways in which ordinary citizens have continually sought to deepen and broaden the meaning of democracy. The study of civil rights struggles in the U.S., however, is often limited to the Civil Rights Movement from the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. While this is certainly the single most important "freedom struggle" of the twentieth century, it tends to mask other civil rights struggles that were taking place at the same time in the American West (especially California and Texas), where large numbers of African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics and Asian Americans also sought to change laws and customs that prevented them from participating in American life with the same rights and privileges as those calling themselves "white." Civil rights also includes the history of voting rights, women's rights, immigrant rights, gay and lesbian rights, rights of physically challenged, and so forth. This research class is purposefully broad in scope to allow students interested in the general topic of "rights" to conduct research in primary documents to produce a 30-35 page paper of publishable quality. The first 4 classes will focus on readings and developing a prospectus, the last few classes will be for paper presentations. Students will meet individually with the instructor throughout the course to report on their progress