Race & Us – How We Got Here… Where We Might Go

Five Islands, Maine (Summer, 2020)

Since elementary school, history has been my favorite subject.  Since middle school, I have been especially obsessed with three topics:

1. The Roaring 20s

2. American Popular Music – blues, country, jazz, rock & roll, etc.

3. African-American history.

Home Sweet Home

After double-majoring in government and history in college, I taught one or the other for 25+ years.  As an undergraduate, I researched and wrote an independent honors thesis comparing and contrasting the political philosophies and social change strategies of Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois.

Thanks to the P.A.C.E. (People Are Created Equal) program we initiated this winter, I’ve been able to get back to the classroom (er…”Zoom Room?”) and re-engage with this powerful and timely topic. The end result was a four-class course called Race & Us – How We Got Here… Where We Might Go.

Each session is about 40 minutes in length. A link to each session follows here with a brief outline of the contents of each.

Class #1https://youtu.be/P-l44r-IOls

  • What is history? Some definitions
  • An actual 1964 literacy test from Louisiana
  • Prejudice vs. Racism
  • De Jure vs. De Facto Segregation… Jim Crow laws
  • Loving v. Virginia (1967)
  • Bill Russell – 2 stories from Second Wind – Memoirs of an Opinionated Man

Class #2https://youtu.be/BFVVubWvXRg

  • Amanda Gorman and the tradition of African-American women poets
  • Hank Aaron – RIP and Thanks
  • Clips from 4 musicians (Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, James Brown, Public Enemy) demonstrating the evolution of the expression of protest sentiment
  • An unlikely combination: Ruby Bridges & Norman Rockwell
  • Dorothy Counts (1957)
  • Bull Connor’s dogs and firehoses and the power of the press
  • Langston Hughes and The Harlem Renaissance

Class #3: https://youtu.be/quqwFC5OXec

  • The Great Migration (1916-70)
  • Accommodation and Booker T. Washington
  • Agitation and W. E. B. Dubois
  • Examples of accommodation and agitation in the history of civil rights.

Class #4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTBzH_Q21yM

  • Martin Luther King
  • Malcolm X
  • Bowdoin College and civil rights: from John Russworm ’26 (that’s 1826) to Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Geoffrey Canada ’74 to DeRay McKesson ‘07.
Brunswick, Maine

For centuries, historians have served up scores of memorable quotes in an elusive quest to either define history or advocate for its importance as a subject of scholarship.  I’ll close off here with my personal favorite:

“History is to the nation what memory is to the individual. As a person deprived of memory becomes disorientated and lost, not knowing where they have been or where they are going, so a nation denied a conception of the past will be disabled in dealing with its present and its future.” – Arthur Schlesinger (1917-2007)

Onward, Malcolm Gauld