| Chap. 1 | Chap.
2 | Chap. 3 | Chap.
4 | Chap. 5 | Chap.
6 | Chap. 7 | Chap.
THE MEANING OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY
In the following passage New York Sun columnist Frank
Harris offers one reason for the study of African American history.
Years ago, when I was a college freshman and black studies
was still alive and well on college campuses across America,
I took a black history course that, as expected, drew a roomful
of fellow blacks. But the sight of
a white student among the bunch was unexpected. When
the professor introduced herself and confirmed the name of
the course, he remained seated. Why was a white guy
taking a course in black history? My feeling then was
that black history was for black people. I felt this
way, first, because it was our history that had
been so routinely skimmed over by the American educational
system, and we were the ones who needed to learn about ourselves;
second, because whites, when presented with the option of
learning about black history, had opted against it.
But my curiosity about this white
student evolved into respect by semester's end. I respected
him not simply because he was there, but because he took a
sincere interest in bridging the gap in his knowledge about
the history of people with whom he shared this nation.
In the fifteen years since that course, I have come to believe
that more whites should have been in that room learning about
black history; since then, I can say unequivocally that black
history is not for blacks only, it
is for whites as well. Whites need to learn black history.
Whites need to see history through the mist of fire of other
eyes... I don't think that there is any American white who
can ever know an American black, completely, until he has.....walked
back into the sunlight of the history that, for so long, has
been left in the shadows of the American conscious.
In these changing times, when.....racial incidents are on
the rise....it is important that white Americans know black
Americans, and just as important for black Americans to know
Our histories are intertwined by the blood
of slavery and the spirit of freedom. Slavery
and freedom have been the central points of reference in America's
history, with the common perception that the history of black
Americans begins with slavery and the prevalent view that
blacks contributed little to American or world civilization.
This, of course, ignores the fact that rich
civilizations flourished in Africa while Europe was still
in its infancy; that there were black explorers, conquerors,
inventors, mathematicians, doctors, scientists before, during,
and after slavery, and that from blacks came America's first
clock, in 1754 by astronomer Benjamin Banneker;
the world's first blood plasma, from Dr. Charles Drew; the
world's first successful heart surgery, performed by Daniel
Hale Williams, a Chicago surgeon, and numerous other achievements.
Black Americans already know the accomplishments and achievements
of white Americans. It is in the fabric of the standard
history of America, as seen
through the eyes of white Americans. This is not to
suggest that the learning of black history by white Americans
would bring a quick and decisive end to racism, and the race
issue, in America. But
it is a critical pillar in the building of a bridge between
the two Americas: a bridge
of knowledge that spans the gulf of ignorance; a bridge of
respect that spans the bay of disdain.
Source: Los Angeles Times,
February 19, 1990.
I have assembled in this booklet instructional
aids which will help enhance your understanding of
the lectures and readings for this course, 20th Century
African American History, or which explain and clarify
the organization and requirements of the course. These
aids include vignettes which are usually statements by important
historical figures or commentary by observers of critical
events and episodes in the history of African American people
in the United
States, statistical tables
and information sheets.
Also included are lists of weekly terms introduced and emphasized
during the lectures or discussed in the assigned readings.
These terms reflect some critical event or development for
a particular period of African American history or refer to
a concept which will help you better understand the historical
process. Since I will randomly choose some of the terms
for your midterm and final exams you should learn the definition
and historical significance of each of them. Those terms
not specifically discussed in class will be explained in your
textbooks or the manual so it is particularly important that
you do all of the assigned reading. All of the instructional
materials are arranged in the approximate
order in which they will be discussed during the quarter.
One final note: you should view the materials in this manual
not simply as additional information you will have to learn
for the exams but as data that will help you better comprehend
and assimilate the varied issues addressed in the lectures
and textbook reading assignments. If you have any questions
about any of the information presented in this manual please
contact me during my office hours which are
listed on your course syllabus.