The course will address the most relevant events and the main issues concerning the African-American experience and the related historiographical interpretations from the civil war to the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
1) Stefano, Luconi, Gli afro-americani. Quattro secoli di storia, Padova, Cleup, 2015, pp. 8-12, 87-392, ISBN 978-88-678-7455-2 (Between the World and Me, New York, Spiegel & Grau, 2015, ISBN 978-0812993547);
2) Paolo Bertella Farnetti, Pantere nere. Storia e mito del Black Panther Party, Milano, Mimesis, 2019, ISBN 978-88-575-5232-3 (or previous editions);
3) Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tra me e il mondo, Torino, Codice Edizioni, 2016, ISBN 978-88-757-8605-2;
4) Stefano Luconi, Black Lives and the First African-American President, "RSA Journal", vol. XXIX, 2018, pp. 93-117, free download from https://www.aisna.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Luconi.pdf
Knowledge objectives: knowledge of the most relevant events concerning African Americans from the civil war to the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
Skills objectives: the ability to identify the most relevant historic and historiographical issues; acquisition and development of the proper technical vocabulary of the discipline; elaboration of an autonomous trajectory for the study and the in-depth analysis of the matters addressed during classes.
Behavioral objectives: to encourage critical thinking and personal interpretation about some key features of the African-American experience; to stimulate students' participation in classes and critical discussions against the backdrop of a correct and profitable relationship between the students and the instructor.
By the end of the course the students will have the knowledge and analytical tools to critically master the most relevant events and the main issues concerning African Americans in the last century and a half of U.S. history.
None. A general knowledge of modern and contemporary history is advised but not compulsory.
Frontal teaching by means of GMeet platform. Students will be encouraged to ask questions and to participate actively in classes.
Further material to prepare the exam can be recommended during classes and uploaded to the Moodle page of the discipline. The students who did not take an exam in U.S. History, History of the Americas or History of North America at the B.A. level and would like to have a broader view of the historical context are advised to consult Stefano Luconi, La "nazione indispensabile". Storia degli Stati Uniti dalle origini a Trump, Firenze, Le Monnier, 2020. The volume will not be a subject of the exam.
Type of Assessment
Oral exam on the issues addressed during classes, including the material that can be uploaded to the Moodle page of the discipline, and on the works in the "suggested readings" section of the syllabus. Each oral exam will be rigorously individual and will involve at least three questions. Its length will be inversely proportional to the student's knowledge. Questions will aim at assessing a) knowledge and understanding of the historical developments, b) knowledge and understanding of the most important phenomena, c) knowledge and understanding of the most relevant events, and d) knowledge and understanding of the most meaningful historiographical interpretations. The final grade will result from the combination of the assessment of each of the four parts. It will also take into account clarity in expressing one's ideas and arguments. Students are advised not to prepare the exam by learning names and dates by heart.
BLACK HISTORY MATTERS: THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCE FROM THE CIVIL WAR TO THE PRESENT TIME. The quatercentenary of the introduction of the first African slaves into North America, which conventionally dates to 1619, offered an opportunity to reassess the black experience in U.S. society. A few self-congratulatory interpretations, such as a popularizing account by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times ("America Wasn't a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One," August 14, 2019), not only stressed the racial discrimination and economic exploitation of this minority over time. They have also highlighted that the Black Freedom Struggle, at least since the civil war, has contributed to turn the United States into a real democracy, reducing the gap between the ideals of equality and freedom, upon which the thirteen British colonies based their right to become a sovereign nation in 1776, and the actual implementation of such principles. Yet, racial discrimination and the hiatus between whites and blacks have not come to an end. During the administration of the first African-American president the Black Lives Matter movement was established to decry police brutality against people of color. In 2018 former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams established Fair Fight Action, an organization that aims at preventing African Americans' exclusion from the participating electorate. The recent Democratic primary elections were a competition among whites, while the few black candidates (Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Deval Patrick) withdrew either in the campaign's early stages or even before a single vote was cast. Today, although African Americans, are roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 27 percent of the casualties of covid-19. Furthermore, while 38 percent of white workers have lost their job or have experienced a pay cut because of the coronavirus pandemic, the percentage rises to 44 percent among African Americans. The course intends to analyze how we have reached this situation, using the treatment of African Americans as the litmus test to evaluate the degree of democracy and inclusiveness of minorities by U.S. society. In particular, classes will reconstruct the main events in the history of African Americans from the civil war to the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Specific attention will be paid to the following issues: African Americans at the beginning of the civil war, the initial marginality of the issue of slavery during the military conflict, the problem of fugitive slaves and the Confiscation Acts, the emancipation proclamation, the 13th amendment, Reconstruction in the views of Abraham Lincoln and the radicals, the 14th and 15th amendment, the 1877 and the end of Reconstruction, racial segregation and its legitimization by the Supreme Court, Blacks' disfranchisement, the response to segregation by the African-American community and its leaders with special reference to Booker T. Washington and William E.B. DuBois, blacks and World War I, Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the "New Negro" in the 1920s, the alleged Black New Deal, African Americans and World War II, the Truman administration and racial issues, racial integration of public schools and local transportations, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Act, the Freedom Rides, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action and busing, the shift of African-American movements from nonviolence and demands for integration to violence and calls for racial separatism, Black Power and the urban riots in the ghettos, the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, women in the Black freedom Struggle, the white backlash at African Americans' encroachments, Richard M. Nixon's Southern Strategy, African-American mayors, Rodney King and the South Central Los Angeles riot, Bill Clinton as the supposed "first black president", the reshaping of affirmative action in courts and by referenda, post-racial politics from Douglas Wilder to Barack Obama, the Obama administration, the new hurdles to African Americans' electoral participation, the Black Lives Matter Movement, Donald J. Trump and African Americans' claims, the scholarly debate on these issues.