Civil Rights Movement


Required Reading:
Christian, Mark. The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement: An Africana Studies Perspective. Kendall Hunt, 2021. (Available in hard copy format and eBook $35): (I am down to pay the $35)

Assignment Checklist:

A) Choose 5 documentaries, and complete 1 page summaries on each documentary; same with any 5 different Chapters 1 page each chapter summary from The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement. Present all summaries in ONE document. Build your summaries up as you go along during the 3 week summer course. For example, as you watch and read, write a summary afterwards with your notes fresh; then add the next one with the title of the documentary or chapter; by week three you’ll have the 5 documentaries and 5 chapters in one file.

B) Choose a Civil Rights topic (my topic, The Black Arts Movement During the Black Power Era) and write a 10 page paper over the course of the 3 weeks, be sure to use references, use the assigned book/s; you can get other references that speak to the topic in question that you choose. Research Paper Guidelines: The length of the research paper should be between 10 pages. Use any reference style that suits you but be consistent: MLA, APA etc. The assignment should be typed/word processed and free from spelling mistakes, use the grammar/spelling check, and always proofread your work. Take these assignments seriously as they amount to a large portion of your grade. If you have any problems understanding this format please come and see me before you begin your research paper. Be sure to study Larry Neal and Amiri Baraka as they were two major figures in the BAM.

I state openly here that the subject matter will raise emotions, this is inevitable. Yet I request students to study this course as an intellectual. That is, try as it may to raise one’s level of thought beyond the immediate emotional response (which is normal) to that of looking at this era with analytical insight and academic rigor. To put it another way, I expect students to cite/reference often the works-evidence provided in the course materials, and via your individual research on the matter beyond the class. For example, the noted sociologist Aldon D. Morris, in the preface of his acclaimed book titled The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change (Free Press, 1984: v), writes: …”The memory of the unpunished murder of young Emmett Till in 1955 makes my blood boil even now…” The fact remains that even the “detached intellectual” cannot escape the very human condition he/she ponders. We are all bound together in the reality of life and the promise of living out our lives with dignity and in peace. Therefore studying such a sensitive era in North American history means taking a step back, to the best of one’s ability, to address the subject matter as a body of knowledge first and foremost.


Introduction Week 1
Reading: The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement, Preface, ix-xv & Chapter One, pp.1-25. Part I: Seeds of a Movement for Social Justice: WWII & Beyond The generation that fought during World War II is the one responsible for providing the initiative for the Civil Rights Movement. Watch the following documentary to get a feel for the One Million plus African American participation that is largely overlooked or not fully comprehended even today.

Watch documentary: Invisible Soldiers: African Americans in WWII, YouTube:

Watch: “Segregation and the South” (1957) as it gives you a taste of the real time experiences of those dealing with segregation at the time. We are studying this subject with about 60 years 4 distance. Yet many of the issues relating to segregation are still with us today.
Watching this documentary will be very useful for you to get an insight into the times.
By the way, this documentary was not allowed to be viewed in the Southern States at the time of its broadcast in June 1957:

Read: Chapter 3, pp. 49-92: The Emergence and Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement.

Part II: The Fear Factor Diminishes with Cost

Reading Freedom Summer and Mississippi Racism/s Reading: The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement, Free-to-Feed, Freedom Riders, and Freedom Summer, Chapter 4, pp. 93-121;

Watch: 1964, The Fight for a Right (2018), this documentary gives a very good historical insight into how hard it was to vote in Mississippi up to 1964.

Reading: The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement, African American Women Leaders Chapter 8, pp. 219-242. And Chapter 6, pp. 155-182, White Liberals and Problem of Gradualism. Watch/Listen: Fannie Lou Hamer:

Also watch: Malcolm X on White Liberals:

WEEK 2 Part III: Black Power & Self-Determination

Reading: The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, Chapter 5, pp. 123-154. Malcolm X’s ideas were challenging the mainstream Civil Rights Leaders and non-violent protest strategy. Watch this documentary, Malcolm X: Make it Plain; this will give you a very good overview of Minister Malcolm X:

Reading: The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement, Black Nationalism and The Black Power Movement, Chapter 7, pp. 183-218.

Watch: Black Power Mixtape – 1967-1975

WEEK 3 Part IV: Reflections & Legacy

Reading: The 20th Century Civil Rights Movement, Reflections on the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Chapter 9, pp. 243-287. And Legacy, Chapter 10, pp. 289- 330.

Watch: Julian Bond talking to Angela Y. Davis reflecting on her life in relation to her activism:

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