Comparative African American Cultures
History 315
Spring 2003
T,Th, 11 - 12:15
Ren 127

Dale Graden
Office: Admin 305 A
Office Hour: Tuesday 2-3, or by appointment
Office Telephone : 885-8956

The purpose of this course is to offer an overview of African American history and cultural expression in the United States and other regions of the Americas from the 19th century to the present. Through readings, discussion, lectures, and films, we shall discuss some of the historical forces that have influenced African Americans and the societies in which they live.

It is imperative that you attend the classes, and that you do the readings. When it is noted discussion, please come prepared to discuss. The quality of the discourse in the classroom depends upon your preparation and commitment. Do not hesitate to ask questions at any time in the class. Please, feel free to challenge my interpretations and share your own insights. My days are enhanced significantly when I learn about new ideas and your perspectives. My goal is for this to be one of the great learning experiences in your journey.

I reserve the right to determine a grade based on attendance and participation. If you miss more than five classes during the semester, your final mark will drop by a grade. If you cannot attend a class for health or other reasons, please leave a note in my mailbox in the department of history (Admin 315) or send a message via email to let me know. I emphasize to you that your involvement makes a class of this nature a worthwhile endeavor for everyone.

Course requirements

There will be a mid-term exam and a final examination. There are also two short papers of two to four (2-4) typed pages. Everyone is required to write on W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk; this essay is due in class on Thursday, February 6th. The second paper is chosen from two other options (books by Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory or Benjamin, Benedita da Silva) and is due on the date noted on the syllabus. You are welcome to substitute the suggested books for paper number two with a reading of your own choosing. Just let me know in advance a book you have chosen. Each essay is worth twenty (20) points, the mid-term exam is worth twenty-five (25) points, and the final exam is worth thirty-five (35) points. The final exam will be a take home question to which you will respond during the scheduled examination period.

Two book critiques

The two short papers of two to four pages (2-4 pages) are assigned to help you to learn how to write effectively and to ensure that you come to the specific discussion meeting prepared to share your ideas and interpretations. These essays should address some theme(s) that you consider relevant from the assigned reading. The short paper is not a "book report." Rather, it is a critique of the book that you have read. I want to read about your ideas and observations and critical analysis, and not an overview of what the author has written. Show me that you have read and thought about the book. According to the law of effective writing, the paper should begin with an introduction, and the last sentence of the introductory paragraph should inform the reader (me) of the central theme or focus of the critique. Then construct coherent paragraphs that analyze in a logical manner the topic. Finally, finish with a conclusion.

Please, write the paper a few days before the due date, so that you can return to the computer at least once before you hand it to me. This will enable you to make corrections and refinements. I have read several thousand of these short papers, and know when someone has scribbled down a bunch of ideas the night before and when the assignment has been approached seriously. I believe that these short papers are among the most important exercises that you can do as a student in a university. And you have asked me why ?!! Because the majority of students graduate from universities and colleges across the land unable to write 3-4 coherent pages on a specific topic or reading. I hope that you find the readings challenging and stimulating. In other words, I hope that the assigned readings make you feel like you want to take pen (computer) in hand to write down your ideas. The discussion offers a great opportunity for you to share with the class your ideas, impressions, sentiments, worldview, etc. I am convinced that we all have much to gain by engaging in a reasoned and critical dialogue with each other, no matter how much you might agree or disagree with the viewpoint of other persons. Late papers will not be accepted. You are welcome to write as many papers as you like, and such initiatives will be considered in my final evaluation of your work and involvement in this course. Also, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you at the UI writing center.

Please note that in taking History 315 this spring of 2003, you are agreeing (by a "contract" of sorts in the form of the syllabus) that the two book critiques are written with your own words and that the mid-term and final exams have been written by you in the classroom during the examination period. If you have any questions in this regard, please get in touch with me. I encourage the use of web sites to help you learn about topics; I discourage use of materials from a web site or any other source when you sit down to share your thoughts about a book you have read.


The following books are available at the UI bookstore and are on reserve at the library:

Joe William Trotter, Jr., The African American Experience
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman
Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory: A Novel
Medea Benjamin and Maisa Mendonça, Benedita da Silva: An Afro-Brazilian Woman's Story of Politics and Love

Class meetings

Week one : Why Study African American Cultures? Could there be a North American - Centric bias in the teaching of African American History in US universities ?

Recommended readings: Peter Applebome, "Can Harvard's Powerhouse Alter the Course of Black Studies?" New York Times, November 3, 1996
"The Black Americas, 1492-1992," NACLA: Report on the Americas (February 1992), both on reserve

Thursday Jan 16 : Introduction

Week two : Nineteenth-Century Slave Systems across the Americas

Reading : Trotter, The African American Experience, 26-79. Begin, Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk. 

Recommended is
David Brion Davis, "Looking at Slavery from Broader Perspectives," American Historical Review 105:2 (April 2000)

T.21 International slave trade to the Americas, 1510s-1868

Th.23 Comparative Emancipations 1770s - 1888

Thursday evening 23rd 7:00 p.m. UI College of Law speech by Carl Mack and presentation of UI/WSU Martin Luther King Jr. “Distinguished Service Award”

Fr.24 MLK and non violence : presentation in Commons, 12:30-2:30

Fr.24 MLK panel "Teach-in" UI Commons fourth floor 12:30-2:30 (all rooms are reserved)

12:30 – 12:50 a general overview and introduction to be done by Raul Sanchez (confirmed)
12:50 – 1:20 “Non-violence as a political strategy” session Dale Graden from U of I and Noel Sturgeon from the community
1:20 – 1:50 Strategizing for clubs and orgs to respond to the Campus Climate survey to be led by Steve Janowiak from U of I and Gretchen Stewart from UI Law School
1:50-2:20 A presentation about the Diversity Dialogue series to done by Jamie Nekich-Locke and Selena Lloyd
2:20-2:30 a brief conclusion by Emily Sly

Week three : Slave Resistance, Civil War, and Reconstruction in the US

Reading : Trotter, The African American Experience, 183-235; continue Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

T.28 Reconstruction: "America's Unfinished Revolution"

Th.30 film "Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice"

"Without Sanctuary: Photography and Postcards of Lynching in America"

Week four : The "Redeemed South", 1880s-1920s

Reading : conclude Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Recommended : Trotter, The African American Experience, 269-342.

T.Feb 4 "A Rage for Order": Jim Crow laws, segregation, movement to the north and west

W.5 and Th.6 the film "Bowling for Columbine" directed by Michael Moore ("Roger and Me" and "Roger and Me Revisited") will be shown at SUB Borah Theater at 7 and 9:30 pm

Th.6 film: "W.E.B. Du Bois of Great Barrington"
Required first critique is due on Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk and short discussion

Recommended is the "W.E.B. Du Bois Virtual Library" at

Week five : Race and Imperialism

Reading : essay by Lawrence J. Oliver, "`Jim Crowed' in Their Own Countries: James Weldon Johnson's New York Age Essays on Colonialism during the Wilson Years," on reserve
Recommended : Lewis H. Lapham, "The American Rome: On the Theory of Virtuous Empire," Harper's Magazine, August 2001, on reserve

T.11 Late Nineteenth Century European Imperialism and "Science"; The "New Empire of the United States, 1860s-1930

Th.13 Guest presentation by the slam poet Shihan

Week six : International Renaissance, 1915-1930s

Reading : Trotter, The African American Experience, 402-33.
Begin Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman

Recommended : review the home page of the Schomburg Center in New York City at
and one of several Harlem Renaissance sites (scroll to bottom) at
See discussion questions for Angelou's The Heart of a Woman at

T.18 film: "Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance"

Th.20 Lot's happening: New York, São Paulo, the Caribbean, Paris in the 1920s

Week seven : Depression, New Deal, World War Two, and McCarthyism

Reading : conclude Angelou, The Heart of a Woman

Recommended : Trotter, The African American Experience, 434-516

T.25 World War; and then wealth and bad times in the 1950s

Th.27 documentary : Frontline "Forgotten Daughter"

Week eight : The Black Power Movement

T.March 4 mid term examination

Th.6 Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam war; MLK before and after 1967

Recommended is Who Killed the Dream ? Insights concerning the assassination of MLK

Week nine : Malcolm X

Reading : Trotter, The African American Experience, 546-603. 

Recommended : Anthony Walton, "A Dream Deferred: Why Martin Luther King has yet to be heard," Harper's Magazine (August 2002)
Shelby Steele, "The Age of White Guilt, and the disappearance of the black individual," Harper's Magazine (November 2002), both on reserve.
Van Gosse, Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America and the Making of a New Left
Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Michael Eric Dyson, Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X

T.11 film "Malcolm X: Make it Plain"

Th.13 : 1959 and 1968 : years that shook the world and legacies (don't miss this class !!)

spring break : suggested reading of Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory and then Benjamin, Benedita da Silva

Week ten : African Caribbean I

Reading : Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory

T.25 Haiti's revolution 1791-1804 and legacies; US intervention 1915-34

Th.27 20th century Haiti : Papa Doc, Baby Doc, Jean-Bertrande Aristide and the Haitian diaspora

Week eleven : African Caribbean II

Reading : finish Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory
View in class the film "Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti"

T.April 1 Discussion of Danticat novel and optional book critique two is due

Th.3 Who was Bob Marley ?

Week twelve : Brasil I

Reading : Benjamin, Benedita da Silva: An Afro-Brazilian Woman's Story of Politics and Love
Recommended : R.K. Kent, "Palmares: An African State in Brazil," Journal of African History 6:2 (1965), 161-75, on reserve
Dale Gradem, "History and Motive as seen through Antonio Frederico de Castro Alves's "Saudacao a Palmares [Salute to Palmares]," Brasil/Brazil: A Journal of Brazilian Literature 9:6 (spring 1993), 27-44, on reserve

T.8 film "The Faces of Slavery"

Th.10 The myth of racial democracy

Week thirteen : Brasil II

Reading : finish Benedita da Silva

T.15 film

Th.17 Discussion of Benedita da Silva and optional book critique three is due

Fr.18  7 pm SUB, free admission : "World In Union" dance and cultural performances

Week fourteen : Hip Hop, Rappers, and international culture

Suggested reading : UK and International Hip Hop site
Urban Ambiance Journal
International Hip Hop Festival 2002
Hip Hop from Senegal
The Hip Hop Congress

T.22 Earth Day : no class
Please consider attending one or more of the following presentations in Commons Mezzanine

Earth Day 2003 UI Speakers Series:   "Alternatives To A
Plundered Planet. And For A Saner World"

Speakers and Departments:

9:30 AM
Simba Tirima, Environmental Science, "Imposing Wilderness
on Africa"

10:00 AM
Kurt Queller, English, "Beyond Stewardship: Judeo-Christian
Alternatives  to Dominionism."

Julia Parker, Core Curriculum and Resource Recreation and
Tourism, "Natives, Nukes and Environmental Justice."

Dale Graden, History,  "Addicted To War: Why Militarism
And Empire Are Bad For Our Collective Health and Well-

Jan Johnson, English and Native-American Studies,  "Saving
the Salmon, Saving the People: Environmental Justice and the
Columbia River Tribes."

Gundars Rudzitis, Geography, "Alternatives to Neoliberal
Development and Models of Cultural, Economic and
Environmental Destruction,"

Th.24 Film on Hip Hop in Sao Paulo, Brasil

Week fifteen : African Liberation Movements


Th.May 1

Week sixteen : Race and Racism

Reading : John Edgar Wideman, "Whose War: The color of terror," Harper's Magazine (March 2002), on reserve.

All below are recommended:
"The Social Origins of Race: Race and Racism in the Americas, Part I," NACLA: Report on the Americas (May/June 2001) on reserve
Derrick Bell, Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism, on reserve
Florence George Graves, "The Complete Anita Hill," Boston Globe Magazine, January 19, 2003

T.6 Discussion

T.8 conclusions

Final exam question handed out on Thursday 8 May and response to be written during exam period 10am - 12pm on Wednesday 14 May. Books, notes, or written materials can not be consulted when writing your response in class.

Selected Bibliography

International Slave Trade, Slavery, Emancipation, the Black Atlantic:

John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1680
Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800
Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery
Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade; The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440-1870
Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger
Charles Johnson, Middle Passage
James Walvin, Black Ivory: A History of British Slavery
Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
Stelamaris Coser, Bridging the Americas: The Literature of Paule Marshall, Toni Morrison, and Gayl Jones
Maria Diedrich et al., Black Imagination and the Middle Passage
Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness


Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd, eds., Caribbean Slave Society and Economy
Barbara Bush, Slave Women in Caribbean Society, 1650-1838
Franklin W. Knight and Colin Palmer, eds., The Modern Caribbean
Fernando Ortiz, Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar, trans. Harriet De Onis (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995 [1947])
Miguel Barnet, Biography of a Runaway Slave
Walter Rodney, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905
Martin Ros, Night of Fire: The Black Napoleon and the Battle for Haiti, trans. Karin Ford-Treep


Robert Edgar Conrad, Children of God's Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in Brazil
João José Reis, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia, trans. Arthur Brakel
Hendrik Kraay, Culture and Politics in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Afro-Bahia
Ruth Landes, City of Women
Amelia Simpson, Xuxa: The Mega-Marketing of Gender, Race, and Modernity
Abdias do Nascimento, Brazil: Mixture or Massacre; Essays on the Genocide of a Black People
Kim D. Butler, Freedoms Given, Freedoms Won: Afro-Brazilians in Post-Abolition São Paulo and Salvador
Phyllis Galembo, Divine Inspiration: From Benin to Bahia
David J. Hellwig, ed., African-American Reflections on Brazil's Racial Paradise
France Windham Twine, Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil
Caetano Veloso, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil
Christopher Dunn, Brutality Garden: Tropicalia and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture


John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, 8th edition
Robin D.G. Kelley and Earl Lewis, To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans
Darlene Clark Hine et al., The African-American Odyssey
Adam Fairclough, Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000
Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America
Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery
Winthrop Jordan, White over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812
W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880
Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877
C. Peter Ripley,, Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation
William H. Chafe, Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South
Paul Goodman, Of One Blood: Abolitionism and the Origins of Racial Equality
Hayward Gallery and University of California Press, Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance
Willie E. Gary, "Making the Case for Racial Reparations: Does America owe a debt to the descendants of its slaves," Harper's Magazine, November 2000, 37-51.
Henry Louis Gates and Nellie Y. McKay, The Norton Anthology of African American Literature

Some web sites of interest
and type in under search "African American history" and type in under seach "African American" or "race" or "multicultural"

Timothy Charoenying, "Jazz at the Crossroads," The Atlantic, 26 Feb. 2003

See also the cd rom Encarta Africana

The links below are provided from the cd rom produced by McGraw-Hill Company entitled "Who Freed the Slaves"


American Civil War Home Page (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)
This extensive site links to hundreds of resources, including timelines, images, letters, accounts and diaries, bibliographies, state studies, specific battles, and rosters.

American Memory (Library of Congress)
The American Memory project has a tremendous collection of primary sources on the Civil War period with a particular emphasis on the African American experience.

Freedmen and Southern Society Chronology of Emancipation (Freedmen and Southern Society Project, University of Maryland)
This site contains a detailed chronology of major events in the history of Emancipation with linked keywords and events.


The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record (University of Virginia)
This site holds multiple digital images depicting slave life and culture before, during, and after emancipation.

Tangled Roots (Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University)
The "Tangled Roots" project brings together speeches, legal documents, letters, interviews, cartoons, articles, and document-based classroom projects related to the intertwining history of American slaves and immigrants from Ireland.


The African-American: A Journey from Slavery to Freedom (C.W. Post University)
Although this site is basic in content, it does provide detailed information concerning key figures in the process of emancipation. This site also provides a valuable bibliography for each of its topics and persons of interest.

African American Odyssey (Library of Congress)
This online Library of Congress exhibition showcases books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings on the history of African Americans and their quest for equality.

African-American Slave Resistance in America (AFRO-Americ@, Carolyn L. Bennett, Ph.D.)
This site chronicles slave resistance in American history, examining specific instances of resistance, the role of women in resistance, and a chronology of slave insurrections and uprisings.

Africans in America (PBS)
PBS's "Africans in America" site accompanies the eponymous series, with historical essays, biographies, interviews, documents, and teachers' guides. Under the subcategory, Civil War (, a further detailing of the Harpers Ferry raid, military conscription, and racist attitudes faced by African Americans who wished to fight in the Civil War is provided.

Dred Scott Case (Washington University Libraries)
A rich exhibit on the Dred Scott case with scans of all primary documents involved as well as a thorough chronology of the case itself.

The Face of Slavery and Other Early Images of African Americans (American Museum of Photography)
This site includes only ten photographs of African Americans from 1855 to 1905 but the bulk of them are portraits, unusual for their time.

Freedmen's Bureau On-Line (The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands)
A private, genealogically-oriented site with a large array of primary documents relating to the activities of the Freedmen's Bureau.

Photographs of African-Americans During the Civil War (Library of Congress)
This site lists Library of Congress photograph holdings of African Americans during the Civil War. Less than half of the listings have actual images online, but they do provide an important glimpse of captured everyday moments.

The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony (University of Virginia)
This site presents the history of a Civil War refuge for escaped slaves, through maps, letters, and project ideas for high school and college students.

Slave Voices (Duke University)
This site contains several documents based on slave narratives recorded by the Federal Writer's Project in the 1930s.

Valley of the Shadow (University of Virginia)
The premier archive of the Civil War period, this path-breaking site focuses on two counties (one slave, one free) and provides a nearly exhaustive documentary and statistical picture of the two communities before and during the Civil War.


Freedom's Journal (State Historical Society of Wisconsin)
Digitized copies of all 103 issues of the Freedom's Journal, the first African American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States from 1827 to 1929.

Nineteenth-Century Documents Project (Furman University, SC)
This site contains a range of nineteenth century documents, such as newspaper editorials, abolitionist tracts, political speeches, legislative resolutions, and statistical data. Issues addressed by these sources include slavery and sectionalism, the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854, the Dred Scott Case, the election of 1860, the secession of the southern states, and the impact of the Civil War on the South.

Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture (Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities at the University of Virginia)
This website features materials relating to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, such as the first published edition, audio files of the hymns presented in the book, anti-slavery and Christian abolitionist texts, materials on nineteenth century Sentimental Culture, newspaper reviews, articles and notices, African American and pro-slavery responses to the novel, adaptations, and an interactive timeline.

Underground Railroad (National Geographic)
This site provides an interactive journey along the fabled Underground Railroad that ushered some runaway slaves to freedom.


Beyond Face Value (United States Civil War Center at Louisiana State University)
"Beyond Face Value" explores the portrayal of slavery in Confederate currency, with over 100 digital images of Confederate notes.

Confederate Broadside Poetry Collection (Wake Forest University Library)
The collection features poems, pamphlets, and broadsides written by southerners and Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War.

Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
A collection of over 1,000 manuscripts including slave narratives and southern literature from the Civil War years. The Southern Homefront, 1861-1865 ( extends beyond the bounds of the basic site by examining the transformation of the homefront in the American South during the era of the Civil War. There are numerous sources and documents on site that cover topics ranging from science and medicine to home life.


Hearts At Home: Southern Women and the Civil War (University of Virginia)
This site allows access to an assortment of primary sources that detail the role of southern women in the Civil War. Many interesting topics, such as women and spying and women in the labor force, make this site an important resource for women's history.

Women and the Civil War (Duke University)
This site contains a few interesting diaries and letters written by women who lived during the Civil War. Also, it includes a highly useful links page with several informative sites concerned with women and the Civil War.


Abraham Lincoln Papers (Library of Congress)
This is the official collection of Lincoln Papers with 61,000 images and 10,000 transcriptions of the nearly 20,000 items in the physical collection.

American Civil War Research Database (Historical Data Systems, Inc.)
A fee-based service allowing searches of the two-million-person database of Confederate and Union Soldiers. Subscriptions are $25 or less.

Civil War Parks (National Parks Service)
The site contains a brief essay and a collection of links to numerous National Park Civil War battlefields and museums.

Emancipation Proclamation (National Archives)
A special exhibit showing multiple drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation and an audio clip of a former slave discussing life post-emancipation.

Eye of the Storm (Simon & Schuster)
This site features Union soldier Private Knox Sneden's watercolors, maps, and journal entries from 1861-1864. There are also links to photographs of Civil War battlefields and a Matthew Brady exhibit.

Historical New York Times Project (Universal Library at Carnegie Mellon University)
The Historical New York Times Project displays New York Times articles on Civil War topics from 1860 to 1866. The hi-tech imagery allows visitors to browse through old newspapers online. (Northern Illinois University)
The premier collection of Lincoln materials outside of the Library of Congress, this site includes presidential papers, songs, texts, and interactive maps.

The Time of Lincolns (PBS)
A PBS documentary site which provides a virtual slave cabin, information on women in the war, and the experiences of the average footsoldier.

U.S. Civil War Center (Louisiana State)
A searchable collection of links and documents on the Civil War as well as a thorough cemetary database.

Virtual Visit: The Emancipation Proclamation (New York State Library)
An excellent display and analysis of the various drafts of the proclamation, including rare nineteenth century photographs of the final hand written draft of the proclamation.

Civil War Cartoons (University of Virginia)
With hundreds of illustrations, this site focuses on the impact of political cartoons on Civil War history.


Private Passions, Public Legacy (University of Virginia Library)
Culled from the estate of Paul Mellon, a prominent philanthropist, this collection includes a Civil War section with pictures of artifacts such as playing cards, broadsides, lithographs, and a moving Myriopticon (a toy that presents Civil War scenes).

Radio Diaries: People Documenting Their Lives on National Public Radio (Radio Diaries, Inc.)
The site includes audio files and transcripts of interviews with the last two known remaining Civil War widows whose husbands fought on opposing sides of the war.