African American History to Emancipation

African American History to Emancipation

Led by: Prof. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (Harvard University)

Course Number: AMHI 678

Semesters: New Course


Image: A photograph of African Americans at Rhett’s Plantation, Port Royal Island, SC, ca. 1861–1865 (The Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC05111.01.0922)

Group of Negros at Rhett's Plantation

Course Description

This course recounts the story of Blacks in America from their beginnings in Africa, through centuries of enslavement in the United States, and during the Civil War years’ promise of freedom. We will span centuries filled with momentous events, heroic voices, and social movements as well as cultural beliefs and creative forms expressive of everyday life—all of which contributed to and transformed along the way the larger American nation. The course will reveal no monolithic Black community, but instead myriad ways Blacks themselves perceived and even debated the Black “experience” and path to racial equality. In identifying complexities as well as commonalities, the course will provide an opportunity to reflect on the ways historical scholarship has changed over the years, to ponder the multiple meanings of a period of time called an “era,” and to become acquainted with a variety of written, digital, visual, and sonic primary sources representative of the Black past.

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About the Scholar

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, where she has been a tenured faculty member since 1993. She is the founder and coordinator of the African and African American Studies Department’s Social Engagement Initiative, an innovative pedagogy that combines rigorous academic work with on-the-ground experience. Higginbotham became the national president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in January 2016. She began her teaching career as a public school teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC, before moving to the university setting, teaching on the faculties of Dartmouth College, the University of Maryland, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The views expressed in the course descriptions and lectures are those of the lead scholars.