Civil Rights and Social Movements in U.S. History

History C139C

Summer 2018
Second 6 Week Session
108 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
MTWR, 12-2 p.m. | July 2–August 10
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the American Cultures Requirement.
  • In their fights for justice and equality, civil rights and social movements have put  democratic practices and institutions in the United States to test. This course explores the long (chronological) and wide (geographic) civil rights movements of the South, the North, and the West Coast, tracing their multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural aspects since the Second World War. How ​did ordinary people and grassroots activists aim to influence electoral processes, legislation, and court decisions? Readings and lectures will delve into the ​Black Freedom and Black Power struggles, Mexican American and Puerto Rican demands for rights, and Asian American and Native American efforts for equality. Paying particular attention to the Bay Area, ​we will study the dynamism of Counterculture, the Free Speech Movement, New Left Radicalism, antiwar protests, Environmentalism, and rebellions expressed in music. Appreciating the intersectionality of race, ethnic, and gender identities, we will explore the Women’s and Gay Liberation movements. Continuing into the late and early-twentieth centuries, the course situates social movements within the larger global contexts and traces the fierce opposition to civil rights and social equality that has coalesced around white nationalism, legal discrimination, and campaigns for law and order. Finally, we will consider the shifting roles and impact of technology and media on social movements within American democracy.