Spring 2021

Race and Educational Opportunity in America

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-355  |  History, as HIST-355

Formerly listed as: BLST-67  |  HIST-82

Faculty

Hilary J. Moss (Section 01)

Description

(Offered as HIST-355 [US, TS] and BLST-355) This interdisciplinary seminar blends African American history; urban history; and the history of education to explore the relationship between race, schools, and inequality in American society. In 1935, W.E.B. Du Bois credited the creation and expansion of public education in the South to African Americans’ educational activism in the aftermath of slavery. And yet, race has historically delineated access to public schooling, and by extension, economic, political, and civic equality. In this course, we will ask how and why race and educational opportunity have structured and subverted civic inclusion, racial justice, and socio-economic equality.  We will focus on African Americans’ efforts to secure literacy, schooling, and higher education, with an emphasis on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

In the first part of the course, we will consider why Americans created a public school system and how race influenced the formation of this critical social institution. Next, we will query how African Americans debated the relationship between education and liberation, particularly after Reconstruction and during the Long Civil Rights Movement. Here, we will focus on African Americans’ legal and grassroots efforts to advance school desegregation, and the backlash against its implementation in northern and southern cities. Along the way, we will assess the meaning and value of integration, and ask how, why, and to what extent school desegregation has promoted and subverted equal opportunity. Then, we will explore how policy makers have attempted to use education as a social welfare institution, particularly in an effort to redress segregated housing and unequal labor markets. We will trace the relationship between public schools and evolution of the welfare state, and reflect upon the power and limitations of Americans’ unique dependence on schooling to equalize opportunity. Finally, we will consider how race continues to inform contemporary reform efforts including school choice, Afro-centric education, and school discipline, among others. Course assignments will consist of weekly responses; two short papers; and one longer essay designed to allow students to delve into some aspect of the course in depth. This course can be used to complete the seminar requirement in History, upon consultation with the instructor.

Spring semester. Limited to 15 students. Professor Moss.

If Overenrolled: Preference given first to students with a demonstrated interest in Ed Studies; HIST and BLST majors; then juniors, then sophomores.

Keywords

Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Issues of Social Justice

Offerings

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014