University of Wisconsin, Platteville

History 3240: African American History, 1619 to the Present


Dr. David Krugler                                                                                                          Fall 2008

320 Warner Hall                                                                                                          101 Boebel

342-1783;                                                                             Mon. 2-2:52

Office Hours: Mon. 1-2, 3-4; Tu. 1-4; Wed. 1-2, 4-5;                                               Wed. 2-3:52

Th.  9-10, 1-3; by appt.



History 324 examines the lives, accomplishments, and challenges of African Americans within the context of major events and periods of U.S. history: settlement of the British colonies and the American Revolution, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Great Depression, and the upheaval of the 1960s, to name just a few. Our subject matter varies, just as the historical experiences of black Americans have varied. We will learn the differences between the lives of slaves and free blacks in the antebellum period. We will examine debates over ways to secure legal, social, and economic equality. Throughout the semester, we will evaluate the persistent “double-obstacle” faced by African American women—racism and sexism. In addition to the diversity marking the historical experiences of African Americans, we will focus on the rise and fall of slavery as well as blacks’ contributions to American culture, participation in the nation’s wars, and continuing efforts to overcome racism and to obtain full equality and oppportunity in the United States.


History 3240 is a General Education course. Accordingly, it is designed to fullfill the learning outcomes for the Historical Perspectives component of General Education. This includes challenging “students to understand and assess our past, in order to form a clearer perception of the present and to deal more effectively with public issues.” Upon satisfactory completion of the course, students will also be able to “demonstrate knowledge of the past; explore the multitude of circumstances and events that have helped to shape historical judgments, actions and visions; [and] interpret the sources of historical change in a variety of contexts” (Undergraduate Catalog 2007-2009, p. 28).


Required books: Students may obtain copies at the Textbook Rental Center.

·        John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans vol. I, 7th ed.

·        Thomas C. Holt and Elsa Barkley Brown, Major Problems in African-American History vol. II: From Freedom to “Freedom Now,” 1865-1990s

·        Edward Countryman, How Did American Slavery Begin?

·        David W. Blight, ed., Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

·        David Howard-Pitney, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s: A Brief History with Documents




Assignments: Your grade will be determined by evaluation of your work on the following:


Exams: You will take two hourly tests and a comprehensive final exam. The first hourly test will be on Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; the second will focus on lecture and discussion content. Study guides will be distributed before the test dates, which are listed below.


Writing: You will write a 10 page research paper (worth 30% of your total grade) on a topic of your choice. An explanation of the assignment will be distributed well in advance of the due dates. Please note that four separate due dates apply to the research paper: thesis and bibliography, progress report, rough draft and peer review, and final draft (see schedule below). Therefore, you should consider this important assignment to be an on-going project. Also note the following: each student must participate in the in-class editing session and late papers will not be accepted.


Discussion: During six different classes (dates listed below), we will hold an in-depth discussion of shared reading about significant historical problems. Your individual participation in these discussions and completion of discussion activities are mandatory and are worth 25% of your total grade. Discussion guides will be distributed in advance of each discussion, and you must complete the reading by class time. The date of each discussion is given below. IMPORTANT: Some reading assignments are lengthy, so be sure to set aside sufficient time to complete the reading by the due date. The assignment schedule indicates when you should begin reading for each discussion. In order to ensure that all students are completing the reading assignment, I may occasionally give pop quizzes before we begin discussion. Discussion activities include the following: class analysis of themes and problems contained in the reading; quizzes; group work; peer review of research papers; and brief, in-class writing assignments.


Attendance: Roll will be taken at random throughout the semester. Students who are frequently absent when roll is taken will have their grade lowered at the semester’s end. If you cannot attend class, please let me know ahead of time. Eligible students who require academic test or lecture accommodations should speak with me. Accommodations will also be made for religious holidays.



Grade Components:

            Research paper @ 30%           Test 1 @ 15%                     Participation @ 25%

            Final exam @ 15%                  Test 2 @ 15%                         



Lecture, assignment, and reading schedule (readings subject to announced changes)


Part I. From colonization to nationhood, 1600s – 1780s
Week 1: Start reading Countryman, How Did American Slavery Begin?, 3-48, 65-80.

Wed. 9/3  Introduction; the West African background.

Week 2: Finish reading Countryman, 3-48, 65-80.

Mon. 9/8  The Atlantic slave trade and New World labor systems.

Wed. 9/10  Disc. #1: African identity and the Diaspora. Lect.: Africans and their descendants in the Southern colonies.


Week 3: Start reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 1-125.

Mon. 9/15  Africans and their descendants in the Northern colonies.
Wed. 9/17  The American Revolution.


Part II. From slavery to freedom, 1790s - 1865
Week 4: Finish reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 1-125.

Mon. 9/22 Blacks in the new republic.
Wed. 9/24 Test 1 and Disc. #2 (both on Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass).  


Week 5: Begin reading Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom, 164-170; handout; web sources.

Mon. 9/29  African American religions and practices. 
Wed. 10/1  Varieties of enslavement and labor.


Week 6: Finish reading Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom, 164-170; handout; web sources.

Mon. 10/6   Abolitionist movements.
Wed. 10/8   Disc. #3: The American Colonization Society. Lect.: Free African-Americans.


Week 7: Begin reading Holt and Brown, Major Problems, 36-44, 55-85; handout.

Mon. 10/13  Test 2 (midterm).
Wed. 10/15  Sectional crises and the Civil War.


Part III. Reconstruction through the Great Depression, 1865 – 1930s

Week 8: Paper thesis and bibliography due; schedule appointment with instructor. Finish reading Holt and Brown, Major Problems, 36-44, 55-85; handout.  

Mon. 10/20  Civil War, cont.
Wed. 10/22  Disc. #4: Reconstruction. Lect.: Blacks and the New South.


Week 9: Begin reading handout.

Mon. 10/27  The rise of Jim Crow.
Wed. 10/29  Modes of self-help; Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. DuBois.


Week 10: Finish reading handout.

Mon. 11/3   The Great Migration.
Wed. 11/5   Disc. #5: Evaluation of the 2008 election from a historical perspective. Lect.: Black Americans and WWI.


Week 11: No reading.

Mon. 11/10  Progress report on research paper due. Postwar racial strife.
Wed. 11/12  Harlem Renaissance; the Depression’s effects.


Part IV. WWII to the present
Week 12: No reading. 

Mon. 11/17 The Double V campaign (World War II).
Wed. 11/19  Postwar promises and challenges.


Week 13: Start reading Howard-Pitney, Martin Luther King, 1-27, 57-72, 96-101, 121-26, 160-63.

Mon. 11/24   Papers due and in-class peer review.

Wed. 11/26   Civil Rights movements.

Week 14: Continue reading Howard-Pitney, Martin Luther King, 1-27, 57-72, 96-101, 121-26, 160-63.

Mon. 12/1  The Civil Rights movements, cont.                                 
Wed. 12/3  Revised papers due. Urban unrest; video on the murder of Fred Hampton.


Week 15: Finish reading Howard-Pitney, Martin Luther King, 1-27, 57-72, 96-101, 121-26, 160-63.

Mon. 12/8   The origins and evolution of affirmative action.

Wed. 12/10   Disc. #6: Comparison of MLK Jr. and Malcolm X. Lect.: Post Civil Rights era.



FINAL EXAM: Friday, December 19, 2008, 3-5pm. Graduating seniors must take the exam.