African Americans and the City
In the first six decades of the twentieth century, over 6 million African Americans left the South in search of a better life in cities in the North. This course will explore the urbanization of black America and its impact on American culture, politics, and society from the early twentieth century to the present. We will learn how the urban experience shaped African Americans’ racial identities and struggles for equality. We will look at how the massive demographic changes to American cities during this period also transformed the nation’s political and social geography, and how the black urban experience changed over time and in relation to larger changes in America’s political economy. In examining the many facets of the black urban experience, we will pay close attention to: work, employment, and the struggle for economic opportunity; housing, real estate, and residential patterns; schools and education; music, the arts, and expressive culture; law enforcement and police-community relations; and movements for social, political, and economic justice.
Students will read approximately 200 pages each week, write review essays of assigned books, and complete a final research paper on a topic related to the course’s main theme.