PSCI 251
Thinking and Acting Politically in the Long Civil Rights Movement Spring 2025
Division II
Cross-listed AFR 258

Class Details

In this course, students will explore the various theories of political action that animated the Long Civil Rights Movement. Students will examine how these theories helped frame the political ideals, ideologies, and behaviors of multiple sects of the Black Freedom struggle. By analyzing the political thought of thinkers like Ella Baker, Amzie Moore, Pauli Murray, Florynce Kennedy, Fannie Lou Hamer, Robert F. Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr.–among others, students will appreciate how their experiences influenced their approach to politics in diverse ways. Subsequently, students will evaluate the theories’ arguments and political actions while determining which frameworks should motivate contemporary political organizing. By challenging the charismatic leader model of teaching and learning Civil Rights politics, students will understand the Civil Rights Movement as a grassroots movement buoyed by the political activities and energies of ordinary Black citizens. Moreover, they will develop a broader understanding of the mechanics of grassroots organizing and mobilize their studies appropriately to argue persuasively how ordinary people should contest injustice by considering tactics, mobilization strategies, political visions and ideologies, and strategic dilemmas. Consequently, they will not view Civil Rights history and theory as an episode of the past but as a force that continues to shape our political imaginations.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 3686
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: several short papers, class participation involving weekly writing, group projects, oral presentations
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors and prospective majors, Africana Majors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PSCI 251 Division II AFR 258 Division II
Attributes: AFR Core Electives
AFR Theories, Methods, and Poetics
PSCI American Politics Courses
PSCI Political Theory Courses

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