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Black Panther Party's Liberation School in San Francisco, 1969
    

Class meets Tuesdays, 5:10-7:10 p.m. in Science 301.
Please note our deviations from standard practice on February 13 and May 8. For details see the schedule below.

 

Click here for the schedule of classes and assignments.

 

Seminar Meetings:

All of the books we will discuss are on reserve at the library and on sale at the bookstore. They are:
- Clayborne Carson, ed., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Stokely Carmichael with Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely
Carmichael (Kwame Ture)

- Diane Fujino, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama
- Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, eds., Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith
- Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi
- Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision
- Brian Shih and Yohuru Williams, eds., The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution
- Mary Stanton, From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo
- Jeanne Theoharis, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
- Stephen Tuck, We Ain't What We Ought To Be: The Black Freedom Struggle from Emancipation to Obama
- Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley

Before we meet to discuss the various books, ponder the reading/discussion questions embedded in the class schedule below. They ; they will provide the starting points for our deliberations.

Most seminar meetings will run for two hours in Science 301, but there two exceptions to this rule: Please note that on February 13 we will convene in the library, devote part of the session to bibliographic instruction, and meet for two and a half hours. On May 8 we'll meet in Science 301 for three and a half hours so that we have ample time to discuss conference papers.

 

Writing Assignments:

Reading notes: Students must hand in copies of their notes on texts discussed in seminar readings. The notes are due in class when we discuss the texts they cover. They will be returned in batches, on February 20, March 27, and May 1.

Class paper: Choose one of the three autobiographical books on our syllabus for the first half of the term: Coming of Age in Mississippi, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. or The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Write a short paper (five pages, double-spaced) about this book's value to students of the Black Freedom Movement during the decades that followed World War II. The paper is due in class on the day that we discuss the book in question. Click here for additional guidelines.

Conference Projects:

Each student will produce a fifteen-page introduction to an autobiography (or set of autobiographies by the same author) that shed light on the Black Freedom Movement in the period this course covers. Click here for a list of autiobiographies that fill the bill, but please feel free to select any other suitable text you find.

The conference paper's task is to give readers both information and analytic insight that can enhance their understanding of the autobiography(ies) the paper addresses. Click here for guidelines and due dates for each phase of conference work.

 

C L A S S   S C H E D U L E

1/23
1/30
2/6
2/13
2/20
2/27
3/6
3/13
3/20
3/27
4/3
4/10
4/17
4/24
5/1
5/8

 

 

1/23
Introduction to the course

Please read the syllabus and explore the course website before we meet.

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1/30
"Power concedes nothing without a struggle."


Reading: We Ain't What We Ought to Be
For our purposes, this book raises far more questions than it answers. What are the most important questions in your opinion, and how will they affect your reading of the life stories you will study for the remainder of the course?

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2/6
A Foot Soldier's Story

Reading: Coming of Age in Mississippi
Consider the systems of domination and subordination that shaped Anne Moody's childhood and youth. In what ways did the Freedom Movement she describes challenge these systems?

Click here for the strnscript of a revealing interview with Anne Moody conducted in 1985.

CLASS PAPERS ON THIS BOOK ARE DUE WHEN THE SEMINAR MEETS.

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2/13 - MEET IN THE LIBRARY
The Most Famous Man We Scarcely Know

Reading: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
In what ways did Dr. King's politics evolve over the course of his career as an activist, and in what ways did they remain the same. What accounts for the changes and the continuities over time?

CLASS PAPERS ON THIS BOOK ARE DUE WHEN THE SEMINAR MEETS.

We will devote the first part of this meeting to a practicum in which the reference librarian Brooke Duffy will offer guidance on research on conference projects. We will then discuss The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., ending the discussion at 7:40 instead of the usual 7:10.

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2/20
Participatory Democracy

Reading: Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this thoroughly remarkable woman was her capacity to transcend generational differences-even fissures-within the Freedom Movement. How did she acquire that gift?

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2/27
"Like part of the family..."

Reading: From Selma to Sorrow
Remembering the many interviews she conducted as part of her research for this book, Mary Stanton reports that "what seemed most consistent to me was that black people over forty remember Viola Liuzzo, and white people over forty-for the most part-don't know who she is" (222). How do you explain that difference?

HAND IN THE PROSPECTUS AND BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THE CONFERENCE PAPER.

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3/6
"If I honestly and fully tell my life's account..."

Reading: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
This book's chapter on 1965-the year Malcolm X was assassinated-closes with his thoughts as to how he will be remembered. Do his predictions accurately reflect what you knew (or thought you knew) about him before reading this book? What was the origin of that knowledge, and what was its political logic?

CLASS PAPERS ON THIS BOOK ARE DUE WHEN THE SEMINAR MEETS.

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S P R I N G    B R E A K




3/27
Pan-Africanism and the Third World Movement

Reading: Ready for Revolution
What does this book reveal about the Black Power Movement's social, political and intellectual origins?

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4/3
The Most Famous Woman We Scarcely Know

Reading: The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks is one of the most widely remembered participants in the Black Freedom Movement, and she is just as commonly misremembered. What are the chief differences between the mythical Rosa Parks and the real-life activist? How do you explain the mythology's tenacious hold on public memory?

HAND IN A DETAILED OUTLINE OF THE CONFERENCE PAPER.

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4/10
Revolutionary Nationalism

Reading: Heartbeat of Struggle
Defending biography as a window on social history, Diane Fujino writes in her introduction that, "it is precisely the personalized framework that allows for an exploration of the dialectical relationship between social movements and the individuals who compose the collective" (xxxi). To put this another way, Yuri Kochiyama's life story offers insight into the relationship between the personal and political. In what ways do the two seem to harmonize and in what ways do they seem to clash? Does her story suggest that women and men experience this relationship in different ways?

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4/17
Living Memory

Reading: The Black Panthers
This book differs from all of our other readings in that it reconstructs a key aspect of the Freedom Movement's history through many short life stories instead of a long story about just one person. What are the comparative advantages and limitations of the two strategies?

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4/24
Intersectional Vision

Reading: Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
Focus on the following sections:
Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, eds., Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith
Read the following sections:
- foreword, preface and acknowledgments (pp. xvii-xxvii)
- parts1-3 (pp. 1-96)
- part 4, introduction only (pp. 97-98)
- part 5, introduction only (pp. 139-140)
- part 6, introduction, first three items in the section "Forging Coalitions," and all of "Embraced by the Black Radical Congress" (pp. 173-186 and 203-211)
- part 7, introduction only (pp. 213-223)
- part 8, introduction, "Sheroes and Foremothers," "The Legacy of Combahee," "The Legacy of Combahee's Organizing," and "Black Feminist Futures" (pp. 253-262, 268-292)

The birth of the Black Radical congress (BRC) in 1998 marked the first time that a Freedom Movement coalition explicitly embraced LGBTQ issues as its own concerns, not just concerns of its allies. How did Barbara Smith's political work prepare the ground for this development, and why was it so long in coming?

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5/1
Writing Revolution

Film: I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck's documentary on James Baldwin)

HAND IN TWO HARD COPIES OF THE CONFERENCE PAPER'S FINAL DRAFT; EMAIL THE PAPER TO THE WHOLE SEMINAR.

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5/8
A Luta Continua!

Reading: conference papers (hard copies in the library; digital copies in your inbox)

WE WILL DISCUSS EACH PAPER FOR ABOUT TEN MINUTES. COME TO CLASS WITH QUESTIONS FOR YOUR CLASSMATES AND WITH THE BOOK(S) YOUR PAPER DISCUSSES. BE PREPARED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS PROMPTED BY YOUR PAPER.

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