What follows is a reading list based upon my writing-based history course that I taught in the Fall of 2015. While teaching the course, I relied heavily on primary sources and short secondary sources due to the stringent page limit (45 pages per week).
Here I have gently revised the syllabus. I include a few more readings that enhance the list. The topics are listed in the order that were assigned. I added two topics – one on the Black Panthers and Donald Trump. I have also included a Spotify playlist of music that inspired the class.
PDF Version: Black Lives Matter Reading List.
White Supremacy and Racial Identity
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Excerpts from “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic (2014) (Read parts I-IV).
- W.E.B. Du Bois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” in Souls of Black Folk (1903).
- Frances Beale, “Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female” (1969).
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Letter to My Son” (2015).
Civil Rights Movement: Direct Action
- Watch: Freedom Riders (2011).
- Ella Baker, “Bigger than a Hamburger” (May 1960).
- Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963).
- Patrice Cullors, “#BlackLivesMatter Will Continue to Disrupt Political Process,” The Washington Post, August 18, 2015.
Civil Rights Movement and Memory: From Rosa Parks to Selma
- Watch: Selma (2015).
- Jeanne Theoharis, “National Honor/Public Mythology: The Passing of Rosa Parks” and “‘Racism is Still Alive’: Negotiating the Politics of Being a Symbol,” in The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks (2013): vii-xvii; 233-244.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., “MIA Mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church,” December 5, 1955, from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.
- Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President at the Dedication of Statue Honoring Rosa Parks – US Capitol,” February 27, 2103.
- Joseph A. Califano, Jr., “The Movie ‘Selma’ Has a Glaring Flaw,” Washington Post, December 26, 2014.
- Prathia Hall, “Bloody Sunday,” in Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts from Women in SNCC (2010): 470-473.
Racial Violence, Police Brutality, and Urban Uprisings
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “The Tangle of Pathology,” in The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (1965): 29-43.
- James Baldwin, “A Report from Occupied Territory,” The Nation (1966).
- Philip A. MacComb, “Who is Behind the Race Riots?,” National Review, September 20, 1966.
- Kerner Commission, Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1967): 1-29.
What We Want is Black Power: Debating the Direction of Black Protest
- Malcolm X, “Message to the Grassroots” (1963).
- Stokely Carmichael, “What We Want,” New York Times Magazine (September 1966).
- Richard Nixon, “Bridges to Human Dignity,” Human Events, May 25, 1968.
- Fran Sanders, “Dear Black Man,” in The Black Woman: An Anthology, ed. Toni Cade (1970).
The Black Panthers
- Watch: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2016).
- Watch: Beyoncé, “Formation,” Super Bowl Performance (2016).
- Donna Murch, Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California (2010).
- Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, “Ten Point Program: What We Want, What We Believe” (1966).
Black Worker Rebellion in Detroit
- Read Selections of Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin, Detroit, I Do Mind Dying and Thomas Sugrue’s The Origins of the Urban Crisis.
- James Boggs, “The Challenge of Automation” (1963).
- Michael Hamlin, “Some Accomplishments of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers,” in A Black Revolutionary’s Life in Labor: Black Workers Power in Detroit (2015).
Challenging the Second Wave: Intersectionality and Black Feminism
- Becky Thompson, “Multiracial Feminism: Recasting the Chronology of Second Wave Feminism,” Feminist Studies, 28: 2 (Summer 2002): 336-360.1
- Brittney Cooper, “Intersectionality,” The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (2016).
- Combahee River Collective, “The Combahee River Collective Statement” (1977).
- Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” (1984).
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations” (Read the rest of the essay).
- Robin D.G. Kelley, “For Reparations and Transformation,” Against the Current (January-Feburary, 2003).
- Cedric Johnson, “An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates and the White Liberals Who Love Him,” Jacobin (2016).
The Hip Hop Generation
- Read selections of Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation (2005).
- Tricia Rose, “Bad Sistas: Black Women Rappers and Sexual Politics in Rap Music,” in Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (1993).
- John McWhorter, “How Hip Hop Holds Blacks Back,” City Journal (Summer 2003).
- Sacha Jenkins, “The Eternal Illmatic” (2015).
Crime and the Carceral State
- Elizabeth K. Hinton, “A War within Our Own Boundaries: Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the Rise of the Carceral State,” Journal of American History, 102: 1 (June 2015).
- Heather Ann Thompson, “Inner-City Violence in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” The Atlantic, October 30, 2014.
- Tricia Rose, “Public Tales Wag the Dog: Telling Stories about Structural Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era,” Du Bois Review, 10: 2 (2013): 447-469.
- Lynn Norment, “Charles Rangel: Front-Line General in War on Drugs,” Ebony (March 1989): 128-134.
- Donna Murch, “Who’s to Blame for Mass Incarceration?,” Boston Magazine, October 16, 2015.
- Michael J. Fortner, “Historical Method and the Noble Lie,” Boston Magazine, October, 23, 2015.
Black Sexual Politics
- Barbara Smith, “Soul on Hold” (1985).
- Cheryl Clarke, “Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance” from This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981).
- Janet Mock, “I Was Born a Boy,” Marie Claire, May 18, 2011.
Black Politics in the 21st Century
- Angela Dillard, excerpt from “Malcolm X’s Words in Clarence Thomas’s Mouth” (2001).
- David Remnick, “The Joshua Generation: Race and the Campaign of Barack Obama,” The New Yorker, November 17, 2008.
- Adolph Reed, Jr., “Obama: No,” The Progressive, April 28, 2008.
- Gwen Ifill, “The Race-Gender Clash,” in The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, 70-88.
- Barack Obama, “A More Perfect Union,” (2008).
21st-Century Black Feminist Politics
- Watch: Beyoncé’s 2014 MTV Video Music Awards Performance.
- Melissa Harris-Perry, “Introduction,” from Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, 1-23.
- Tamara Winfrey Harris, “All Hail the Queen?,” Bitch Magazine (2013).
- Brittney Cooper, “Feminism’s Ugly Internal Clash: Why the Future Is Not Up To White Women,” Salon.com, September 24, 2014.
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists (2015).
Campus Protest: From #BBUM to #Mizzou
- Selections from Thedemands.org (University of Michigan).
- Austin McCoy and Garrett Felber, “Viewpoint: Student Protest and Affirmative Action,” The Michigan Daily.
- Tanzina Vega, “Colorblind Notion Aside, Universities Grapple With Racial Tension,” New York Times, February 24, 2014.
- Dave Zirin, “Black Mizzou Football Players Are Going on Strike Over Campus Racism,” The Nation, November 8, 2015.
Narrating the Movement: Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter
- Department of Justice, “Report Summary” and “Background,” Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department (2015): 1-10.
- Alicia Garza, “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement,” The Feminist Wire, October 7, 2014.
- DeRay McKesson, “Ferguson and Beyond: How a New Civil Rights Movement Began – and Won’t End,” The Guardian, August 9, 2015.
- Martha Biondi, “The Radicalism of Black Lives Matter,” In These Times, August 15, 2016.
- Ben Carson, “#BlackLivesMatter Misfire,” USA Today, September 3, 2015.
Race, Trump, and the 2016 Election2
- Brent Staples, “Donald Trump and Reconstruction Era Politics,” New York Times, March 3, 2016.
- Geoff Eley, “Fascism Then and Now,” Socialist Register, Vol. 52 (2016): 91-117.
- Greg Grandin, “Why Trump Now? It’s the Empire, Stupid,” The Nation, June 9, 2016.
- I had students get into groups and reverse outline Thompson’s article. The activity was successful on two fronts – students learned how scholars articulated and proved their arguments with evidence. They also learned a history of feminism that challenged some of the stereotypes often perpetuated in public discourse. Return to text.
- I chose Staples’s and Eley’s articles from Blain’s and Connolly’s “Trump Syllabus, 2.0.” Return to text.