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Black Liberation from Reconstruction to Black Lives Matter

Robert S. Smith

Publication Date - 16 July 2021

ISBN: 9780197583951

192 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Encourages your students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past


Embracing an argument-based model for teaching history, the Debating American History series encourages students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past. Each book poses a question that historians debate--How democratic is the U.S. Constitution? or Why did civil war erupt in the United States in 1861?--and provides abundant primary sources so that students can make their own efforts at interpreting the evidence. They can then use that analysis to construct answers to the big question that frames the debate and argue in support of their position.

Black Liberation from Reconstruction to Black Lives Matter poses this big question: After decades of struggle, was there a breakthrough in civil rights in the 1960s?


  • Organized around a big question about which historians themselves disagree
  • Exposes students to rival positions about which they must make informed judgments
  • Asks students to judge the relative merits of rival positions on the basis of historical evidence
  • Requires students to develop their own positions, for which they must argue on the basis of historical evidence
  • Offers an alternative to the "coverage model" that has dominated History classrooms since the late nineteenth century, and which has consistently fallen short of its own goals since its inception
  • Concise and flexible format allows for inclusion in a variety of classroom settings
  • Each title in the series is edited by Joel M. Sipress and David J. Voelker, award-winning teachers who have published and lectured extensively on reform in the teaching of History

About the Author(s)

Robert Smith is the Harry G. John Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Urban Research, Teaching & Outreach at Marquette University.

Table of Contents

    List of Images and Figures
    About the Author
    Series Introduction

    The Big Question


    Historians' Conversations
    Position #1-The 1960s Breakthrough in Civil Rights
    Position #2-The Permanence of Racism: No Breakthrough in Racial Equality

    Debating the Question
    Reconstruction and the Meaning of Freedom
    1.1 Reconstruction Era Amendments
    1.2 Black Codes of Mississippi, 1865
    1.3 Organization and Principles of the Ku Klux Klan, 1868
    1.4 The Civil Rights Act of 1875

    Jim Crow and the Problem of Racism
    2.1 The Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883)
    2.2 Sharecropper Images and Contract
    2.3 Negro Rule Cartoon, 1890s
    2.4 A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States, 1895
    2.5 Scottsboro Boys, 1931
    2.6 Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, 1932-1972
    2.7 Restrictive Covenants from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    2.8 Alabama Voter Registration Application, c. 1965
    2.9 Urban Renewal, c. 1960

    Voices of Protest
    3.1 Paul Laurence Dunbar, We Wear the Mask (1896)
    3.2 Great Migration Articles, Chicago Defender, May 17, 1919
    3.3 Marcus Garvey, "Aims and Objects of the Movement for Solution of Negro Problem," 1924
    3.4 Madame C. J. Walker, 1910s-1960s
    3.5 The New Negro (1925)
    3.6 "Strange Fruit" (1939)
    3.7 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Address to Montgomery Improvement Association," Holt St. Baptist Church, 1956
    3.8 Congress of Racial Equality, c. 1962
    3.9 James Baldwin, "My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation, 1963"
    3.10 March on Washington Correspondence and Program, 1963
    3.11 Malcolm X, "Ballot or the Bullet," King Solomon Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan, April 12, 1964
    3.12 Ella Baker, "Address at the Hattiesburg Freedom Day Rally," 1964
    3.13 The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Platform, 1966
    3.14 Representative Shirley Chisolm, "Speech at Howard University," 1969 (excerpts)
    3.15 Angel Davis,"Speech Delivered at the Embassy Auditorium," 1972
    3.16 Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, "The Message," 1982

    Modern Civil Rights Laws and Policies
    4.1 Executive Order 8802, 1941
    4.2 Sweatt v. Painter et al. 339 U.S. 629 (1950)
    4.3 Executive Order 10925-Establishing the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, 1961 (excerpts)
    4.4 Civil Rights Act of 1964 (excerpts)
    4.5 Voting Rights Act of 1965 (excerpts) and Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution
    4.6 Black Occupational Shares, 1960s-2000s
    4.7 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994

    The Movement(s) Continues
    5.1 Rodney King (1991)
    5.2 Murder of Trayvon Martin (Images and Commentary)
    5.3 The Movement for Black Lives, 2013
    5.4 Mass Incarceration and Felon Disfranchisement
    5.5 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Stop-and-Frisk Cases (New York City and Milwaukee)
    5.6 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),
    Fact Sheet on Incarceration, 2019
    5.7 Experts of Color Network Letter on the Flint Water Crisis (2016)
    5.8 Protests in Response to Police Killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd (2020)

    Additional Resources


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