Eyewitness to the Civil Rights Movement: Mississippi 1964-65 Winter 2020

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Class Details

During sixteen months in 1964-’65, the instructor worked as a civil rights organizer in rural Mississippi with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He witnessed and aided in the heroic efforts by black citizens to dismantle the pervasive structure of Jim Crow that had oppressed them for generations. He met relatively uneducated people with the stature of giants. What he encountered was an apartheid America–a vicious police state reinforced by government and vigilante violence–beyond the understanding of most Americans and certainly beyond the imagination of young people today. The course will explore this transformative moment in recent American history through documentary film, popular music of the time and discussion. Topics include nonviolence and armed self-defense, the role of the black church, women and whites, Malcolm X and Black Power and the third party politics of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Students will read and discuss three books. Evaluation will be based on class participation and a final project in any media. It is the intent of the instructor to convey the immediacy that only first person experience can invoke. Adjunct Instructor Bio: Chris Williams worked as the college architect at Williams for many years. Now retired, he lives on the back roads of Vermont with his wife and hound dog.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 20
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: final project or presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: random drawing
Materials/Lab Fee: approximately $85 for books

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