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The African American Experience

The African American Experience

This course explores the post-emancipation history of African Americans. Beginning in 1865, ‘The African American Experience’ studies how deep divisions in U.S. society and culture foreshadowed a renewed order of white supremacy in the U.S. South. By the 1890s, ‘Jim Crow’ appeared as this region’s dominant legal and cultural practice thereby denying the very notion of ‘freedom’ to these Americans. This course explores African American history on the long road from ‘Freedom’ to ‘Freedom Now’. It moves chronologically to study the modern civil rights movement and finds its long roots in the continual and ongoing resistance of African Americans to racial subjugation. Positioning the African American perspective at centre, this course highlights the diverse range of experiences that help constitute this view; at all times, the heterogeneity of African Americans frames this historical investigation. As it moves forward to study the twentieth century, this course highlights the post-World War One rise of the ‘New Negro’ as in an important turning point. It explores the multiple forms of activism that arose during a period of increased militancy among urban African Americans as they responded to continued violence, exclusion, and racial subordination in modern America. In the ongoing battle to be recognized as citizens –fully or at all – African Americans continued to build their own schools and churches; social and economic institutions; voluntary associations; political fora and organizations; print media and literature, art and cultural expressions – these elements aimed to sustain ‘race pride’ in a nation that consistently devalued black people in the United States. This course calls attention to the long fight against racial discrimination, disenfranchisement, violence and segregation as it studies resistance to these oppressions. Specific topics to be covered include: Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow; the Great Migration; the Harlem Renaissance; the Civil Rights Movement; Black Power and Black Feminism.

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.