Making it Matter: Reframing the U.S. Survey

Jesse Kohn


In thinking about how we can teach Black Lives Matter in a U.S. survey, this essay suggests beginning the course with two readings: Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Case for Reparations" and Amiri Baraka's Dutchman.  These texts can be used to place Black Lives Matters in historical context, question normative narratives of American history, and encourage student activism in their schools and communities.

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Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press, 2012.

Baraka, Amiri. Dutchman and The Slave. New York: Harper Perennial, 2001.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. "The Case for Reparations." The Atlantic, June 2014.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. New York: Dover Publications: 1995.

McGee, Celia. "A Return to Rage, Played Out in Black and White." New York Times 14 Jan. 2007: AR4.

Williamson, Kevin D. "The Case against Reparations." National Review Online, May 24, 2014.

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial, 2003.



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