Honors | Confront Authority: Blacks and the Law
H204 | 0018 | Rome
1:00-2:15p TR BH 144
This section meets with HON H228
This course charters the unfinished agenda of a nation still struggling to
come to terms with the consequences of its history of relations between
African and white Americans. In many ways, this history has left a legacy
of pain, and this course would be remiss if it did not acknowledge and
emphasize that fact. In this class, we will discuss many improvements in
the economic, political and social position of African Americans. We also
will discuss the continuance of conditions of poverty, segregation,
discrimination and social fragmentation of the most serious proportions.
Contemporary views of the status of black-white relations in America vary
widely. Perspectives range from optimism that the main problems have been
solved, to the view that African American progress is largely an illusion,
to assessments that the nation is retrogressing and moving toward
increased racial disparities. To some observers, the present situation is
only another episode in a long history of recurring cycles of apparent
improvement that are followed by new forms of dominance in changed
contexts: the level of African American status changes, it is said, but
the one constant is African Americans' continuing subordinate social
position. To other observers, the opposite conception is correct: long-run
progress is the dominant trend. Listening to these discordant views,
reasonable students of social life may well wonder what, indeed, is the
case. To this serious question this course seeks to bring to bear a large
compilation of facts and analyses. It would be unrealistic to expect all
students to agree with all positions articulated throughout the semester.
Hence, it is expected that students will gain knowledge of those complex
problems that have confronted the African American community and at the
same time have a greater understanding of the struggle of African
Americans and the impact African Americans have had on recurring freedom
for all Americans. Further, it is also expected that students will
increase their ability to analyze, assess, and interpret contemporary
policy-decisions that have relevancy for all Americans.
Required Texts (Subject to Changes):
Bell, Derrick. 1992. Race, Racism and American Law. 3rd Edition. Little
Brown and Company: Boston.
Berry, Mary Frances. 1994. Black Resistance/White Law: A History of
Constitutional Racism in America. Penguin: New York.
Higginbotham, Leon A. Jr. 1996. Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and
Presumptions of the American Legal Process. Oxford University Press: New
In addition, students are required to purchase a reading packet which
contain additional readings.
Students will be asked to write four, 3-5 page papers to present their
reflections of materials covered within a given period. Students' papers
should include a demonstration of their comprehension of information
presented in class lectures, readings, films, class discussions/debates
and presentations by guest lecturers. These papers should not be mere
summaries; instead, impressions felt or conclusions reached as a result of
readings, lectures, etc. Students will be asked to read parts of their
papers to the class.
Students are also required to participate in class debates and
"simulated-society" activities. There are also a couple of field-trips
scheduled as well as late evening films. Students will receive a tour of
both the main library and the Black Culture Center Library. Students are
expected to utilize both libraries.