Civil Rights Movement (FYSEM-110CV-01)

Civil Rights Activist Ella Baker

Civil Rights Activist Ella Baker. Image: Civil Rights Activist Ella Baker. The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Courtesy of the public domain.

Instructor: Professor Morgan

This first-year seminar is designed to introduce students to broad themes and patterns of African-American civil rights history from the end of slavery in 1865 until the present, both within and without the South.

We will take a "long Civil Rights Movement" approach that emphasizes the significant groundwork that Reconstruction-era African Americans laid for the struggles of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will complete common readings and films, and have frequent short writing projects designed to strengthen your writing skills.

In addition to the civil rights legacy of Reconstruction, some of the themes we will cover include

  • the historical processes that produced segregation
  • the implications of migrations and urbanization
  • civil rights during the World Wars and Depression
  • civil rights activism outside the South
  • the different phases and tactics of the movement
  • the roles of class, gender, leadership, and grassroots activism

We will take careful note at all times that African Americans never limited their struggles for civil rights by time or place.

On the contrary, the story of civil rights has a rich heritage that stretches back to the emancipation era, if not before and was not just sectional but national and international in scope.

A crucial conceptual theme that will receive emphasis thought stresses African Americans as historical actors who fought for and shaped their own freedoms in the face of overwhelming opposition, terrorism, and only occasional support and assistance.