The Second Reconstruction: Black Politics after Civil Rights
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11238
Black politics in the United States has often been defined by a singular goal: full legibility as humans and citizens. How best to achieve that goal, and to assume positions of political leadership, is still a matter of intense debate. Since winning the right to vote and a partial end to legal segregation, black electoral presence and visibility has widened considerably. However, during the same period, the carceral state intensified, urban police forces expanded, and deindustrialization, invidious housing laws, and a severely reduced welfare state left large swaths of black America economically depressed. In the post-Civil Rights era of formal legal equality but extreme social inequality, what were the objectives of black politics and the tactics to achieve them?
In this course, students will explore the question of why increased representation failed to yield greater social equality. Is it better to incorporate into existing political structures, such as the Democratic Party, and build coalitions with other groups, or maintain a hardline separatist stance? How did the experiences of “Black Capitalism” under Nixon, the Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns, the erosion of the welfare state, and the Crown Heights and Watts riots shape contemporary black politics and thinking? What are the roots of Black Lives Matter? What is black neoliberalism–and how are we to understand the election of Barack Obama in the context of black emancipation? To answer, we’ll read a wide range of black political thought, including works by Michelle Alexander, Bayard Rustin, Shirley Chisolm, Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton, Keeanga-Yamhatta Taylor, Frederick Harris, Manning Marable, Adolph Reed, and Lester Spencer.
The Second Reconstruction: Black Politics after Civil Rights is taking place in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum, whose exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power runs from September 14th, 2018 to February 3rd, 2019. During the course, we’ll interact with the exhibition as we seek to understand the fertile relationship between black politics and black cultural expression.
Course ScheduleThursday, 6:30-9:30pm
November 15 — December 13, 2018
4 sessions over 5 weeks
Class will not meet on Thursday, November 22nd.