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1 RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF AFRICANA STUDIES The Black Experience in America Edward Ramsamy, Ph.D. Fall 2010 Phone: (732) 445-3334 Ext. 233 Course: 01:014:203 E-mail: M/W: 5 - 6:20pm Office: Beck Hall Room 118 Beck Hall Auditorium Office Hours: by appointment COURSE DESCRIPTION A powerful and preoccupying factor in the history of the United States since its founding in the seventeenth century has been the matter of color. Echoing Du Bois’ pronouncement at the beginning of the last century that the “problem of the 20 th century is the problem of the color line”, renowned historian John Hope Franklin states that “Without any pretense of originality or prescience . .. I venture to state categorically that the problem of the 21 st century will be the problem of the color line.” Although, African-Americans have played a crucial role in the historical development of the United States they continue to simultaneously experience acculturation and alienation in American society. W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) summarized this contradiction as follows: "One ever feels his two-ness: an American, a Negro, two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body . .. The history of the American Negro is a history of this strife. .." The constant conflict between being an intimate part of the American experience and being alienated economically and politically from the majority, is one of the most salient features of the Black experience in America. With the ascendency of Barack Obama to the presidency, the United States is at a potentially transformative moment in race relations. The implications of Obama’s historic victory for the Black experience in America will be critically examined in the course. The course offers an inter-disciplinary examination of the Black experience in the United States focusing of the themes of acculturation, alienation, oppression and resistance. While the course surveys the Black experience from slavery to the present, the subject matter is not approached in a simple chronological manner. The various issues and individuals discussed are situated in the context of the struggle of African-Americans for political rights, economic justice and cultural accommodation. The course begins with a brief look of the position of Africa and the fledgling United States in the emerging international economic order of the 15th and 16th centuries and how the enslavement of Africans related to economic and political processes of this era. The course then proceeds to examine the institutionalization of slavery in the United States and the subsequent struggles for emancipation. The attempts by African-Americans to gain socio-cultural equality and political and economic rights in the aftermath of the slave experience make-up the remainder of the course. COURSE REQUIREMENTS
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