Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr.
Scott and Dorothy Bullitt
Professor of American History
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African American History | African American History in the West (Now available at www.blackpast.org)  

History 322:
20th Century African American History
Course Assignments



Your course grade is based on three exercises: a midterm exam, a final examination and a 10-12 page research paper (see manual for details on the paper).  The midterm is scheduled for the end of the fifth week.  Some students will be unable to take the midterm exam with the rest of the class.  In that case I ask them to take a makeup exam scheduled for 5:00‑6:00 p.m. on the last Friday of instruction during the quarter.  The room will be announced later.  Since the makeup exam will be penalized 10 points on a 100 point exercise, all students should make every effort to take the exam at its scheduled time. 

Those students who perform poorly on the midterm exam (69 or below) have the option of writing a book review to offset that grade.  Should you choose to write the review, it can be handed in no later than the Friday of the ninth week of the term.  Please read the page titled Optional Book Review Assignment in the manual before initiating your review.

My grading procedures are simple.  Since each exam is worth up to 100 points I will average your numerical score.  I will also assign a numerical score for your research paper, "C"=75, "C+"=78, etc.  Your numerical scores will then be averaged to determine your course grade.  Thus if your overall average is 76 your course grade will be the numerical equivalent of a "C" in the UW grading system.

I do not issue "incompletes" to students who by the end of the quarter have not taken an exam, handed in an assigned paper or otherwise met the course requirements.  If you have not completed all of the course requirements by the end of exam week, and you have not, by that point, explained why, your grade will be lowered accordingly.



Each student enrolled in HSTAA 322 will write a 10 page research paper (including footnotes) assessing some impor­tant question in the 20th Century history of African America.

Avoid simply describing some episode in black history such as the Great Migration or the Harlem Renaissance or the Rise of Black Power.  Instead pose a research question and, given the resources at your dispos­al, answer that question.  Thus your paper should ask why significant migration in the 1920s did not occur in the Pacific Northwest, how the 1960s campaign for civil rights differed in this region or why and how African American women have changed the political agenda for black America in the post 1970 era. 

I will accept a paper based largely on secondary sources if your research is centered outside the Pacific Northwest.  However if you examine questions of particular relevance to our region, I would expect you to use primary sources as evidence to support your argument.

Your paper should conform to Turabian's, A Manual for Writers (latest edition).  Your paper should include at least 10 sources.  Please note Turabian's footnote style and follow it.  Papers with improper footnotes will be marked down.


Please observe the following dead­lines:


Fourth Friday of the Term:  Please present by email a paper title and a paragraph explaining your topic and why you chose it. 


Fifth Friday of the Term: Present by email a one page outline and bibliography of primary and secondary sources to be used for your paper.


Seventh Friday of the Term:  Present by email a brief progress report on your paper.  This is an opportunity for you to describe any difficulties you may be encountering.  Your report should, if necessary, include a request for a meeting to discuss those difficulties.


Tenth Friday of the Term: Turn in research paper by 5:00 p.m. to the History Main Office (the office closes at 5:00 p.m.).  Please provide a hard copy.  Do not submit your paper as an email attachment.


Suggested Topic Areas 

  • Susie Revels Cayton and the Communist Party

  • The Garvey Movement in Portland (or Seattle)

  • Jesse Jackson and the Politics of Race

  • The Reagan Revolution and Black America

  • W.E.B. DuBois and the Politics of the Left

  • African American Women and Affirmative Action in Washington State

  • The Black Soldier in Vietnam (or Korea, or World War II)

  • The Harlem Renaissance

  • Mary McLeod Bethune

  • Madam C. J. Walker

  • South Africa and African American Leadership

  • The Nation of Islam, 1931-1991

  • The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi (or Alabama or Oregon)

  • The Rise of Black Neo-Conservatism

  • Cultural v. Revolutionary Nationalism



Those students who perform poorly on the midterm exam (69 or below) have the option of writing a book review to offset that grade. Your review should be a candid appraisal of the work.  As with most book "reviews," you will describe the book's major thesis or argument.  But I also request that you follow these guidelines in your assignment:

  1. Assess whether you were convinced by the author's argument.

  2. Discuss the most important new information you learned about the African American West from the book.

  3. Describe how the book reinforced or challenged ideas about African American history that you have learned from the assigned readings, my lectures, and the discussions.

  4. State whether you would recommend the book to others, and include specific reasons for your decision.

Your review should be approximately five typewritten pages, 1,500 words for those of you who use computers.  I recommend that you devote the first three pages to a review of the book itself and the remaining two pages to respond to the four guidelines.  Please number your pages.  I will not accept untyped book reviews.


The first page of each review should have information on the book which appears as follows:


Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994), 330 pages.


You may choose, although you are not limited to, the books that appear on the following reading list.  If you choose a book not on the list make sure that it is primarily a history which covers some topic related to 20th Century African American history.  Avoid books that are course assigned readings or are general African American history books (e.g. Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love: Black Women, Work and Family From Slavery to the Present).  Also not eligible are regularly assigned textbooks for any other course you are currently taking with me.


The following films and documentaries are part of a list of titles on African American history.  Most of them are  in the Media Center collection in Odegaard Undergraduate Library.  Although the following videos are not requirements of the course I urge you to selectively view them to enhance your understanding of the history of the 20th Century African America. 

At the River I Stand (59 minutes, 1993) describes the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers strike for union recognition which eventually attracted Dr. Martin Luther King to the city and led to his assassination on April 4 of that year.   The documentary profiles the local leaders of the strike and describes how a local labor dispute became a pivotal point for both the national civil rights and labor movements.

Circus  (89 minutes)  This 1936 film produced in the Soviet Union satirizes the U.S. obsession with racial purity by following the life of a light-skinned African American entertainer who flees America and eventually becomes a star performer in a Russian Circus in  to support herself and her dark-skinned child. 

Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (90 minutes) A 2001 production, this documentary describes the series of trials in Alabama following the alleged rape of two white women by nine black teenagers.  The documentary describes the intense courtroom drama of the trials and illustrates how the case exacerbated regional, racial, ethnic and class tensions throughout the nation.  It also profiles the remarkable international campaign organized to prevent the execution of these young men. 

The Road to Brown  (47 minutes) This 1990 documentary focuses on the legal strategy that would lead to the 1954 Supreme Court Decision making unconstitutional  de jure public school segregation.  Using the life of Charles Hamilton Houston, the chief architect of that legal strategy, it illustrates the role of a gifted group of African American attorneys in using the courts to dismantle segregation. 

Within Our Gates (79 minutes, 1919) A silent film produced by Oscar Michaeux in 1919 that focuses on the racial prejudices of the era and their consequences for African Americans and other people of color.