AAST 247: African American History to 1877

Enslaved Black people picking cotton

Between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, twelve million Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas.  This course examines one stream of this forced migration to what would eventually become the United States.  It will provide a general knowledge of the major themes and issues in the history of African-descended people in the United States, from their first arrival in North America, through the processes of enslavement and the growth of plantation slavery, to the end of slavery and the aftermath of Reconstruction.  We will explore the black struggle for freedom and full citizenship and the long process of emancipation.  We will trace the emergence of a distinct African American culture, and pay special attention to how black men and women struggled to create community, give meaning to their labor, establish and protect family ties, and preserve bodily integrity.  Black men and women daily performed large and small acts resistance to the institutions of slavery and racial discrimination, and we will therefore investigate the array of actions that black men and women took on their own behalf to overcome the constraints under which they lived.  We will simultaneously investigate the ways gender shaped the experience of slavery and freedom for African-American women and men.