Stories of Freedom:

Civil Rights Movement Biography

History/Political Science 390

Fall 2013

Dr. Chris Schutz

Phone: 746-5321


Professor’s Website:

Course Website:

Office Hours:  MWF, 9–9:50 AM

                                    10:55-11:45 AM

                        Or by appointment

Required Books:

► Lewis, John. Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. Harcourt Press, 1999.

► Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. Dell Books, 1975.

► Sellers, Cleveland. The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC. University Press of Mississippi, 1990.

► Sokol, Jason. There Goes My Everything : White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.


Course Themes:

The Civil Rights Movement still ranks as one of the most extraordinary stories of the American twentieth century (quite possibly of American history overall). Very few things turned southern society-- and America in general-- upside down so significantly. Southern history might still be marked (in much the same way as the Civil War itself) as “before and after” the revolution in civil rights of the 1950s and 1960s. It was so significant that it has even had international implications. Countless freedom movements across the world have taken inspiration by what occurred here in southern communities half a century ago. This American story is made all the more amazing by the people who created it. Civil rights leaders were among the most disenfranchised, isolated, downtrodden Americans of their time; and, yet they radically altered America forever. They were also ordinary people doing quite extraordinary things. As one of those activists later claimed, “We started with nothing. We had nothing. And, we changed the world with nothing.” These are the stories we will tell– African American and white, male and female, journalist and activist, politician and foot soldier.

Course Requirements:

Reading: You have four books for the course. In addition to that, I will assign reserve readings at times (which may be added as the course progresses). A substantial portion of your reserve reading will be drawn from the two volumes of Reporting Civil Rights (designated in your course schedule as “RP #1" and “RP #2"). Additional readings on library reserve will be drawn from: August Meier, et al, eds., Black Protest Thought in the Twentieth Century (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971) (designated in the course schedule with the acronym “BP”). The reading will form the foundation for the entire course; hence, expectations of your close and thoughtful reading of the materials assigned will be quite high. You should read carefully not just for factual information, but for the authors’ arguments as well, and come to class fully prepared to discuss them intelligently. In the Course Schedule below, you will find assigned reading dates where those readings will be discussed in class.

Exams: There will be two written exams in the class. The first will be a midterm exam held in class on Comment Wednesday, September 25. The other will be your final exam. Any makeups for those exams will require valid medical documentation or my approval prior to the date of the exam. (Please note: the burden of acquiring that approval falls on the student seeking it. That is, the student simply leaving a message without having an actual conversation with me will not suffice). All makeups must be taken within one week of the original scheduled exam, or risk that exam grade becoming a 0.

Quizzes: All reading assignments will be subject to an unannounced “pop quiz” to take place at the beginning of class. Those quizzes, taken together at the semester’s end, will form a critical 40% of your final grade.

Student Scholarly Integrity: Any student cheating on exams or quizzes, plagiarizing on papers, or copying other students’ work on assigned papers will be subject to failure in the entire course.

Class Participation: This will be perhaps the most essential part of our class time together, and discussions will occur frequently throughout the semester. While I will certainly have some issues in mind to be covered on your readings, it will your job to come to class with thoughtful consideration of those readings and primarily drive the discussions. As such, discussion, together with attendance (discussed below) will comprise another critical portion of your course grade: 25%. While I expect some students to be better suited than others to class participation (i.e., more vocal and assertive in public speaking), all students are expected to participate regularly throughout the semester, or suffer in this portion of their grade. It will be an especially vital part of our time in an upper division course.

Attendance: I will take roll daily, and up to three unexcused (i.e., without documentation from a doctor) absences will suffer no penalties. Roll will be taken at the beginning of class. It is the responsibility of any late student to inform me of your presence in class immediately after class is completed. After that time has passed, you will remain marked as “absent.” Over three absences may result in penalties in the 25% of your class participation and attendance grade. While I will make an effort to repeat any announcements of upcoming assignments or exams, it remains the responsibility of anyone who misses class for catching up on any missed material— including the announcement of any dates (or date changes) in upcoming assignments. Be aware also that, since discussion is a critical part of your grade, missing class may also gradually damage your grade in that area as well (even without exceeding the allotted unexcused absences). Please note: Being present means just that– being present to what is going on in this class. Students asleep, doing work for another class, text messaging, or doing anything else other than what pertains to this class means being absent (and will count as such in my record), and will not be tolerated.

Important Note About Class Cancellations: Should inclement weather or other problems force the cancellation of class, you should presume that whatever was scheduled to take place on that cancelled date (exam, reading assignment, mandatory discussion, etc.) will be held on the next available class meeting.

Student Athletes: Because the purpose of permitting only three unexcused absences is to prevent the student from falling behind and suffering academically, student athletes who miss class due to athletic events will be limited in their allowed unexcused absences. Should you miss three (or more) classes due to athletics, then you may not take any unexcused absences in addition to that (if you have two athletic absences you may take one unexcused absence; if you have one athletic absence, you may take two unexcused absences). Exceeding this agreement will damage your attendance and participation grade. Student athletes who miss more than three classes due to athletic events (and have no unexcused absences), of course, will not be penalized; but, student athletes should be especially mindful of the burden such escalating absences will create for their academic performance (and, should thus be particularly vigilant to keep track of assignments, be sure to quickly get good notes from a classmate, etc.). Should an athletic event ever conflict with a mandatory discussion or exam date, you should come see me at least a week in advance to make alternate arrangements.

Students with Disability: Any student who feels she/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a documented disability should contact the Academic Success Center to discuss specific needs. Please contact Dr. Patsy Ging, Director of Learning Support Service for Students with Disabilities at x5237, or via email at It is the students’ responsibility to make initial contact with one of the coordinators in the Academic Success Center. Coordinators: Dr. Patsy Ging/, Dr. Patti pjones/, or Mr. John Gaston at


Course Grade Distribution:                                Course Grade Scale:

Midterm Exam: 15%                                                  A: 92-100/ A- : 90-91

Final Exam: 20%                                                        B+: 88-89/ B: 82-87/ B- : 80-81

Class Participation: 25%                                            C+: 78-79/ C: 72-77/ C-: 70-71

Quizzes: 40%                                                             D+: 68-69/ D: 62-67/ D-: 60-61

                                                                                    F: 0-59

Descriptive Course Schedule

NOTE: This class will meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 2:00 -- 2:50 PM. Below you will find many of those with specific events or assignments attached to them. Any regularly scheduled dates that do not have such an event or assignment attached may not be listed below, but we will of course meet on those dates as well (that is, those are class meetings that simply do not have an assignment or event scheduled). All dates are subject to change as course needs dictate, and will be announced in class by instructor.

“BP” indicates a reserve reading from: August Meier, et al, eds., Black Protest Thought in the Twentieth Century

“RP” indicates a reserve reading from: Reporting Civil Rights (either volume I (“RP#1), or volume 2 (“RP#2")

Important Note: Should inclement weather or other problems force the cancellation of class, you should presume that whatever was scheduled to occur on the cancelled date will now be held on the next available class meeting.

Course Introduction (8/19)

► Course Requirements

Before the Sea-Change: African American History Before the Civil Rights Movement (8/21-8/28)

► White Racism, Jim Crow, and Lynching

► Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and the NAACP

► WWII, A. Philip Randolph, and the March on Washington Movement

► Post-WWII Racial Change

► The Brown Decision and Massive Resistance

Friday, 8/23: BP, pp.37-47, 58-62, 100-109; Internet Site Reading: Booker T. Washington, “The Atlanta Exposition Address”

Monday, 8/26: RP#1 > pp.49-51; BP > 158-164, 239-243; Reserve Reading: John Dittmer, “We Return Fighting” & A.Philip Randolph, “Civil Rights Can Be Secured by Mass Action”

Wednesday, 8/28: Moody, part 1 (“Childhood”)

Montgomery and After (8/30-9/6)

► Rosa Parks, JoAnn Robinson, E.D. Nixon and the Emergence of MLK

► Formation of the SCLC

► Little Rock Nine

Wednesday, 9/4: Moody, part 2 (“High School”); RP #1, pp.211-216, 335-341, 373-377, 396-397

Friday, 9/6: RP #1 pp.355-368; BP, pp.302-306

Monday, 9/9: Lewis, prologue and chap.s 1-3

Organizing Freedom (9/11-9/13)

► The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee

► Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Committee

► Congress on Racial Equality and the Freedom Rides

Wednesday, 9/11: Lewis, ch. 4-6; RP #1, pp.431-446; BP, pp.307-308

Friday, 9/13: Lewis, ch.7-9; RP#1, pp.580-588

Turning the Soil in the Deep South: The Freedom Movement in Mississippi, Alabama & Georgia (9/16–9/20)

► The Mississippi Movement

► Albany and Southwest Georgia

► Desegregating the University of Alabama

Monday, 9/16: Moody, part 3 (“College”); RP #1, pp.665-668

Wednesday, 9/18: RP #1, pp.647-653

Friday, 9/20: Moody, part 4 (“The Movement”)

Wednesday, September 25: Midterm Exam

Birmingham, the Bastion of Segregation (9/23–10/2)

► The Birmingham Campaign

► Bastion of Segregation: Birmingham, Alabama

► The Sleeping Giant Awakens: federal legislation

► The March on Washington

► Four little girls & “Bombingham”

Monday, 9/30: RP #1, 447-452, 777-794

Wednesday, 10/2: Lewis, chap.s 10-11; BP, pp.346-351

Last Shining Days of the Movement: The Summer of Freedom and Selma (10/4–10/14)

► SNCC’s Freedom Summer of 1964

► Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney

► Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

► Voting Rights and the Selma Campaign

Wednesday, 10/9: Lewis, chap.s 12-13; Reserve Readings

Monday, 10/14: Lewis, chap.s 14-16; RP#2, pp.187-196, 322-327

White Responses to the Freedom Struggle (10/16-10/25)

Wednesday, 10/16: Sokol, Introduction & chapter 1

Friday, 10/18: Sokol, chap.2; RP #1, 222-227

Monday, 10/21: Sokol, chap. 3

Wednesday, 10/23: RP #1, 98-111; Reserve Reading: Eudora Welty, “Where is This Voice Coming From?”; Reserve Reading > Joan Browning, “Shiloh Witness”

Friday, 10/25: Sokol, chap. 4

“We’ve Got Some Difficult Days Ahead”: The Shift Toward Black Power and Beyond (10/28–11/25)

► Chicago Campaign

► Meredith March

► Rioting and Urban Racial Problems

► Black Power

► Fruition of Voting Rights?

► Continuing Significance of Race in America

Monday, 10/28: Sellers, chap. 1-5

Wednesday, 10/30: Lewis, chap.17; other selections

Monday, 11/4: Sellers, chap. 6-9; RP#2, 299-308

Wednesday, 11/6: Sellers, ch. 10-12; RP #2, 439-444, 453-464, 491-494

Wednesday, 11/13: Lewis, chap.18; RP #2, 602-610, 645-650, 756-758

Friday, 11/15: Sellers, ch. 13-19; BP, 491-495; RP#2, 624-636

Monday, 11/18: Sellers, ch. 20-21; Sokol, chap. 5; RP#2, 764-769

Wednesday, 11/20: Lewis, chap.19-21; RP#2, 637-644, 759-763

Friday, 11/22: Sellers Afterword; Sokol, chap. 6; Reserve Reading: “Ghosts of the Past”

Monday, 11/25: Reserve Reading: Jonathan Kozol, “Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid”; other reserve selections