The Black Experience in America


INSTRUCTOR: DR. ROBERT F. PACE               OFFICE: Old Main 204

OFFICE TELEPHONE:  793-3865                           OFFICE HOURS:

E-mail: rpace@mcm.edu                                                       MWF: 1:00-2:00

TR: 10:30-12:00




A chronological survey of black history in the United States; development of slavery, the slave experience, struggle to gain and define freedom, segregation, and movement for civil rights and equality.



John Hope Franklin and Alfred Moss, From Slavery to Freedom, 8th Ed.  (referred to as “F&M” in Assignments)

Steven Mintz, ed., African American Voices, 2nd ed. (Referred to as “Voices” in Assignments)

Thomas R. West and James W. Mooney, To Redeem a Nation.(Referred to as “Redeem” in Assignments)


Course Objectives:

The goal of this course is for students to develop the following:


1.  Knowledge and understanding of the forces and events that have affected African Americans from the Colonial Period to the present.


2.  An ability to think critically, analytically, and systematically and to express these thoughts through in both written and oral formats.


3.  The skills necessary to use a word processor.



Class Schedule

Week 1:                                                           Introduction

January 10-14                                                  Assignment:

Read “Voices”, Introduction and Part 1;

Read “F&M”, Chapters 1 & 2



Week 2:                                                           From Africa to the New World

January 17-21                                                  Assignment:

                                                                        Read “Voices”, Parts 2 & 3

                                                                        Read “F&M”, Chapter 3


Week 3:                                               COLONIAL PERIOD

January 24-28                                      Assignment:

                                                            Read “Voices”, Parts 4 and 5

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 4 and 5

                                                            Monday (1/24) Discussion


Week 4:                                               SLAVERY

January 31-February 4                         Assignment:

                                                            Read “Voices”, Parts 6, 7, and 8

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapter 6 & 7



Week 5:                                               SLAVE CULTURE

February 7-11                                      Assignment:

                                                            Read “Voices”, Parts 9 & 10

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 8 & 9

                                                            Friday (2/11) Discussion


Week 6:                                               Exam I

February 14-18                                    Assignment:

Friday (2/18) Exam I


Week 7:                                               CIVIL WAR

February 21-25                                    Assignment:

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 10 and 11


Week 8:                                               EMANCIPATION

February 28-March 4                           Assignment:

                                                            Read “Voices,” Part 11

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapter 12



March 7-11

Week 9:                                               DECADES OF DISAPPOINTMENT

March 14-18                                        Assignment:

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapter 13


Week 10:                                             WASHINGTON AND DUBOIS

March 21-25                                        Assignment:

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 14 and 15

                                                            Read “Redeem”, pp. 1-18


Week 11:                                             Exam II

March 28-April 1                                 Assignment:

                                                            Wednesday (3/30) Discussion

                                                            Friday (4/1) Exam II


Week 12:                                             WORLD WAR I

April 4-8                                              Assignment:

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 16, 17, and 18

                                                            Read “Redeem,” pages 19-32

                                                            FRIDAY (4/8)—NO CLASS—GOOD FRIDAY


Week 13:                                             NEW DEAL & WORLD WAR II

April 11-15                                          Assignment:

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 19, 20, and 21

                                                            Read “Redeem,” Parts 2 & 3

                                                            MONDAY (4/11)-NO CLASS-EASTER BREAK


Week 14:                                             CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

April 18-22                                          Assignment:

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 22 and 23

                                                            Read “Redeem,” Parts 4 & 5

                                                            Monday (4/18) Discussion


Week 15:                                             MODERN ERA

April 25-29                                          Assignment:

                                                            Read “F&M”, Chapters 24 and 25

                                                            Monday (4/25) Discussion


Week 16:                                             CONCLUSIONS

May 2                                                  Monday (5/2): Last Discussion


Course Requirements:

Two Midterm Examinations

One Final Examination

Reading discussions

Discussion leadership

Book and article reviews

Oral reading examination

****Note that these assignments are required as part of your passing this class.  Failure to complete any of these assignments will result in automatic failure, regardless of your overall average.




Grading:  Your final grade in the course will be determined as follows:


Midterm Exam I                                   200 points

Midterm Exam II                                  200 points

Final Examination                                  200 points

Reading discussions                              100 points

Discussion leadership                            100 points

Book and article reviews                       100 points

Oral reading examination                         50 points

Attendance and Participation                   50 points

Total possible points:                            1000 points


The following grading scale will be observed for your semester grade.

930-1000= A
900-929 = A-
880-899 = B+
830-879 = B
800-829 = B-
780-799 = C+
730-779 = C
700-729 = C-
680-699 = D+
630-679 = D
600-629 = D-
<600 = F



Attendance Policy:  Attendance in this class is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.  Because we will follow a lecture/discussion format, class participation is vital.  If a student arrives after the roll is taken, it is the student's responsibility to make sure that his or her presence has been recorded at the end of the period.  If a student has five unexcused absences, the student will receive a “0” for his or her Attendance/Participation grade.


Make up Policy:

Make up exams will be administered only when students can show a valid reason for their absence (this means confirmation from either from the health center or from some other official entity).  Students must schedule the make-up exam with the instructor within one week of the original exam.


Reading Discussions: During the semester, we will have several student-led discussions over the articles in the books African American Voices and To Redeem a Nation.  Each student will be assigned a discussion date to lead. 

Discussion leaders should determine important points and themes.  The leaders will then create a list of ten to fifteen questions that should elicit considerable discussion (50 minutes worth) about the assigned reading.  At least half of the questions should be general and comparative in nature, allowing for discussion of all articles read for the meeting.  During the class period before the discussion is to take place, the leaders will bring typed copies of the questions and distribute them to the instructor and the entire class.  (This way, all should be prepared for the questions to be asked.)  On the day of the discussion, the leaders will run the show and all must participate.  The instructor will participate as needed.

Discussion leaders will receive a grade for their effort by the instructor and by their partners.  Discussion participation is also a factor in the student's overall grade.  If anyone misses the discussion, for whatever reason, they will have to produce an additional writing assignment over the reading (of considerable length, to be announced as necessary). Students should absolutely not be absent on the day they are to lead discussion. 

These discussions should be thoughtful and enlightening.  If everyone will participate, this class will be quite interesting.  If people do not participate, however, the entire class will suffer because we will all have to sit through hour after hour of hearing the same people talk.  Try to get it in your mind now that you will read your assignments and participate in the discussions and I promise that the semester will be much smoother than if you come to the discussions with an empty brain.


Critical Reviews:

For this class, all students will choose a topic from a list provided by the instructor.  After choosing the topic, the student will find scholarly books and articles on the topic and bring them to the instructor for approval.  With the instructor’s permission, the student will read one outside book and three articles on the topic. The student will write critical reviews for each work (four reviews total), in which he or she includes the following information:



After you have read the book, write a critical review that will consist of two parts.

At the top of page one, you should put the author, title, and all appropriate bibliographic information in the following manner:


Jones, Johnny. Slavery and the South:  A New Perspective.  New York:  Simon and

            Schuster, 1993. 302 pages.


PART I:  A summary of what the book was about, either in general or under chapter headings.  Be sure to provide sufficient detail that will help illustrate any criticisms or points you want to make in the second part of you assignment.  On the other hand, do not provide so much detail that you cannot explain the overall story of the book in the space allotted.  This summary should be about 500-750 words (2-3 pages). 


PART II:  A critical commentary on the book of about 500-750 words (2-3 pages).  This commentary should include the following information:

            1. Who is the author and what is his or her background?

            2. What was the purpose of the book as detailed by the author or from a general reading?

            3. How well does the author achieve this purpose?  That is, is it a convincing argument or treatment?  Why or why not?

            4. What are the author's interpretations?

            5. Does the author exhibit a bias or slant in his or her treatment of the material?

            6. How does the author agree or disagree with classroom lectures, your assigned readings in the course, or other things that you have read?

            7. What types of sources did the author use?  Are they primary or secondary?  Were these sources used effectively?


When writing quotations from the book in the book review, you should can cite the page as follows:  Jones claims:  "The South was a tough place to live if you were a slave." (172)  In addition. . . .


But, if you decide to quote any other source in your review, you should use endnotes, as follows:

Dixie Little, a noted historian of southern agriculture, asserts that Jones's book "is little worth reading; in fact, it is the worse thing on the subject I have ever seen."1


                1Dixie Little, review of Slavery and the South, by Johnny Jones, in Journal of Southern History 59 (November 1993), 221.




This assignment will be a bit different than the book review assignment.  Choose three articles that all cover your topic similar topic. Be sure you look in scholarly journals and get approval from the instructor. 


After you have read your three articles, you should approach the writing of this assignment as if you were writing a research paper on the topic that was common to your three articles.  With about 1250 to 1500 words (5-6 pages), you will need to discuss how the three authors approached the topic and the major points that each of them brought out regarding the topic. 


But, this is also a critical analysis of the articles.  You will need to apply the questions used for book reviews to each of the articles.  Use this information only when it is necessary and appropriate to make your point.


For the article analysis, it will be necessary to use endnotes and a bibliography to cite quotations, since there are so many different sources.  Refer to Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Paper, Theses, and Dissertations (5th ed.), for proper style, or ask the instructor.


These assignments will take a bit of work on your part, but the key is to stay on top of your reading and be diligent in your work for this course.  When the semester is over, you will have accomplished a lot, and you should have a broader understanding of the historiography and history of the African Americans in the United States.


Oral Examinations:

Between the 13th and 15th weeks of the semester, the instructor will have several times posted on his office door.  Students will need to sign up for a time, and will bring the reviews to the appointment and will discuss the readings in a one-on-one setting with the instructor.  The student will be graded on knowledge and critical analytical skills.  More information on this assignment will be provided in class.