African American Political Thought

Th 3-5:30
749 Barrows
Course Description: 

This graduate seminar explores central themes and concepts in the history of African American political thought. It takes up the major philosophical questions that shaped the tradition from the early nineteenth through the mid twentieth century by reading seminal texts as works of moral and political theory. Students are therefore expected to dive beneath the rhetorical and polemical surface to the analytical and normative substratum of these works. The seminar is organized
historically and thematically into four parts. Each part addresses a historical conjuncture and a set of political and normative questions that predominated. Part I looks at slavery through works by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Martin Delany to ask, among other questions: What is the nature of slavery? How does each author’s account shape his or her understanding of political freedom? Part II takes up white supremacy by reading works by Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and James Weldon Johnson. In this section, we focus on social domination, exclusion, and inequality. Part III looks at the international and Marxist turn in black political thought in the interwar years, specifically, writings by Marcus Garvey, Harry Haywood, and others in the black radical tradition. Part IV concludes the course by asking how that global turn, namely decolonization, influenced the struggle for civil rights in the United States. To answer this question, we read Frantz Fanon, authors of Black Power, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Group visibility: 
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