Seminar in United States History
Over the course of the semester, students will examine the dynamic ways people of African descent in the United States have struggled for cultural, economic, and political empowerment during the Civil Rights and Black Power eras. Much of the class will focus on the 1960s and the 1970s; however, previous and subsequent periods will also be analyzed. Students should leave this class with not only a broader knowledge of “Black Power” as a cultural, political, and ideological movement, but also with a more nuanced understanding of the research methods and interpretive frameworks utilized by historians, as well as other social scientists, interested in Black Power in particular and the Black freedom struggle in general. Students will have the opportunity to further develop their research skills and techniques through a series of assignments designed to assist them in identifying research topics and questions, interpreting primary and secondary texts, and substantiating arguments with “sound” evidence.
It should be noted that this course will also focus on the local dimension of Black Power by engaging student activism on UVA’s campus between 1968 and 1984. Significant attention will be given to students’ fight for a Black Studies department at UVA, their massive demonstrations against racial apartheid in South Africa, and their general struggle to make the University a more egalitarian place.