The Civil Rights Movement, Jeffrey L Littlejohn










Class: T 6-9 pm; AB4 452
Credit Hours: 3 hours
CRN Number: 83981
Section Number: HIS 5098.03
Semester: Fall 2017


Dr. Jeffrey L. Littlejohn
Office: AB4 – 455
Office Hours: MWF 1-3
Telephone: 936.294.4438


Over the fourteen years between 1954 and 1968, a mass civil rights movement rose in the South, bringing “city governments, bus companies and chambers of commerce to their knees. The movement created disorder so severe as to force a reluctant federal government to intervene -- on the side of black southerners, which was more surprising then it seems in hindsight today. The civil rights movement--aided by Democratic-Republican competition for the votes of recent black migrants to the North and by U.S.-Soviet competition for allies among newly independent African and Asian nations--destroyed Jim Crow, the vast system of legal segregation and disfranchisement named after a nineteenth-century minstrel character. In addition to provoking Congress to turn against its powerful southern bloc in sweeping Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, the movement forced a change in the Constitution. The Twenty-fourth Amendment and new interpretations of the Fifteenth guaranteed black Americans the vote. The movement shut down a political culture of racist demagoguery and one-part rule in the southern states, a culture long underwritten by the threat of mob violence.

“The movement did all this with remarkably few causalities. Ugly as white southern resistance was, Maya Lin’s memorial to martyrs of the civil rights movement has only 40 names engraved on it. The apartheid regime in South Africa beat that figure in a single day, at Sharpeville in 1960, when it killed 67 people and wounded 200 more. In a freedom struggle closer to our own time, Chinese authorities killed some 2,600 in the immediate aftermath of Tiananmen Square. American’s own war to destroy slaver, with 600,000 deaths, makes the destruction of segregation a century later appear astonishingly nonviolent. Its destruction appears a feat of moral and political alchemy.” (David Chappell, A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow, UNC Press, 2004).

How did this happen? What were the roots of the civil rights movement? How did everyday Americans contribute to the cause? Who were the movement’s most vocal and successful leaders? How did the movement evolve and mutate over time? When did the movement end (if it did)? How are the civil rights issues of the 1950s and 1960s related to issues today? This class seeks to answer these questions by examining primary and secondary sources that deal with the subject.


1) Students will gain factual knowledge.

2) Students will learn fundamental principles, generalizations, and theories.

3) Students will learn to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view.


1) Critical Thinking: Students will be taught to think critically and analytically, and to ask appropriate questions about different historical societies and cultures, integrating and synthesizing knowledge they gain in the course, forming conclusions, and building an informed belief system from the complex of information presented in the course content.

2) Communication: to include effective development, interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral and visual communication. Communication skills will be addressed in this class through class participation, the reading and discussion of historical texts, attending lectures, and watching films. Students will learn through the use of historical materials to critically evaluate the time periods in which these materials originated.

3) Personal Responsibility: to include the ability to connect choices, actions and consequences to ethical decision-making. Personal responsibility will be addressed in this course as students articulate how to make sound ethical judgments based on the development of their personal value system. By studying how individuals in the past drew upon their cultural belief systems to make ethical choices students will learn how their personal choices based upon ideas, values, and beliefs influence their larger society and culture today.

4) Social Responsibility: to include inter-cultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities. Social Responsibility will be addressed in this course as students learn about the ways in which individuals and groups in the past made decisions aimed at promoting civil discourse, civic participation, and other social values so as to improve society for all. Students will thus learn about their own social responsibilities in improving current American society


C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Oxford, 2001.

Patricia Sullivan, Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement. New Press, 2009.

Erik S. Gellman, Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights. UNC, 2014.

David Chappell, A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow. UNC, 2004.

Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance. Vintage, 2011.

Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. Princeton, 2002.

David Garrow, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., & the SCLC. W. Murrow, 1986.

Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s. Harvard, 1995.

Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America. Holt, 2007.

David Chappell, Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of MLK, Jr. Random House, 2014.

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

In addition to the book listed above, you will be assigned a variety of primary documents and scholarly articles over the course of the semester. These readings should be completed by the date they appear on the syllabus.


1) Course Readings
- Students will complete reading assignments as provided in the syllabus.

2) Five Précis
- Students will submit a 250-word précis, or short summary, on five of the assigned books.
- Each précis should be submitted to blackboard by 5:00 pm on the evening the book is scheduled for discussion.
- A student should not write a précis on the book he or she selects for the extended book review.

3) Book Review and Class Discussion
- Students will each complete a 2,500-word review of one of the assigned books.
- Each student will lead the seminar discussion that is related to his or her book review.

4) East Texas History - Lynching Entry
- Students will each complete a 1,000-word entry on a lyching for East Texas History.
- This entry should be based on primary and secondary sources and must include supporting media.
- This entry must be posted to East Texas History by 5:00 pm on Sunday, October 31.
- Feedback will be provided to each student by the following week.
- Revised entries must be completed and posted by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, November 21.

5) Podcast Interview
- Students will each conduct a 15 to 30 minute interview of a historian or historical suject.
- Interview subjects must be approved by Prof. Littlejohn by October 10.
- Interview questions must be approved by Prof. Littlejohn by October 17.
- Interviews may be conducted with a digital recording device or smartphone.
- Interviews should be completed and by November 14.
- Interviews will be posted on the Living History podcast.

6) Research Paper
- Each student will write a 2,500-word research paper on a topic of his or her choosing.
- Research papers must be based on primary sources and address existing secondary literature.
- Topics should be approved by Prof. Littlejohn no later than September 26.
- The initial draft of the research paper is due November 14.
- The final draft of the research paper is due by 1:00 pm on December 1.

Assignment Due Date Points Total
Five Précis Varies 50 points 250 points
Extended Review/Discussion Varies 125 points 125 points
ETH - Lynching Entry - Initial October 31 75 points 75 points
ETH - Lynching Entry - Revised November 21 100 points 100 points
Podcast Interview November 14 100 points 100 points
Research Paper - Initial November 14 150 points 150 points
Research Paper - Revised December 1 200 points 200 points
Total points   1000 points

Scale:   A=1000-900 B=899-800 C=799-700 F=699-0

As part of this class, you will be expected to check your university email and our Blackboard page at least once every two or three days. To email me, you can either go to Blackboard or send directly to


The University expects all students to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is above reproach. Students are expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom.  Any student found guilty of dishonesty in any phase of academic work will be subject to disciplinary action.

5.31 The University and its official representatives, acting in accordance with Subsection 5.32, may initiate disciplinary proceedings against a student accused of any form of academic dishonesty including, but not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, collusion, and the abuse of resource materials.
"Cheating" includes the following and similar actions:
(1) Copying from another student's test paper, other report, or computer files, data listings, and/or programs.
(2) Using, during a test, materials not authorized by the person giving the test.
(3) Collaborating, without authorization, with another student during an examination or in preparing academic work.
(4) Knowingly, and without authorization, using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, soliciting, copying, or possessing, in whole or in part, the contents of an unadministered test.
(5) Substituting for another student, permitting any other person, or otherwise assisting any other person to substitute for oneself or for another student in the taking of an examination or test or the preparation of academic work to be submitted for academic credit.
(6) Bribing another person to obtain a test or information about an unadministered test.
(7) Purchasing, or otherwise acquiring and submitting as one's own work any research paper or other writing assignment prepared by an individual or firm. This section does not apply to the typing of the rough and/or final versions of an assignment by a professional typist.

5.32 "Plagiarism" means the appropriation and the unacknowledged incorporation of another's work or idea into one's own work offered for credit.
5.33 "Collusion" means unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing work for credit.
5.34 "Abuse of resource materials" means the mutilation, destruction, concealment, theft or alteration of materials provided to assist students in the mastery of course materials.
5.35 “Academic work” means the preparation of an essay, dissertation, thesis, report, problem, assignment, or other project that the student submits as a course requirement or for a grade.


2.01 Procedures for discipline due to academic dishonesty shall be the same as in disciplinary actions specified in The Texas State University System Rules and Regulations and Sam Houston State University Student Guidelines except that all academic dishonesty actions shall be first considered and reviewed by the faculty member teaching the class. The faculty member may impose failure or reduction of a grade in a test or the course, and/or performing additional academic work not required of other students in the course. If the faculty member believes that additional disciplinary action is necessary, as in the case of flagrant or repeated violations, the case may be referred to the Dean of Student Life or a designated appointee for further action. If the student involved does not accept the decision of the faculty member, the student may appeal to the chair of the appropriate academic department/school, seeking reversal of the faculty member's decision.

2.02 If the student does not accept the decision of the chair of the academic department/school, he/she may appeal to the appropriate academic dean. The chair of the academic department/school may also refer the case directly to the academic dean if the case so warrants. 


It is the policy of Sam Houston State University that individuals otherwise qualified shall not be excluded, solely by reason of their disability, from participation in any academic program of the university. Further, they shall not be denied the benefits of these programs nor shall they be subjected to discrimination. Students with disabilities that might affect their academic performance are expected to visit with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities located in the Counseling Center. They should then make arrangements with the instructor in order that accommodations can be made to assure that participation and achievement opportunities are not impaired.  SHSU adheres to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. If you have a disability that may affect adversely your work in this class, then we encourage you to register with the Counseling Center and to talk with us about how we can best help you.  All disclosures of disabilities will be kept strictly confidential. Please note: No accommodation can be made until you register with the Counseling Center and provide us with proper documentation.


At the end of the semester, students will be asked to complete an evaluation of the course, but I welcome feedback about readings, assignments, and my instruction throughout the semester. Let’s work together to make this a successful and rewarding learning experience for everyone.


This syllabus is your contract for the course. I will not change the nature of the course, the number of assignments, or the grading system. However, I reserve the right to update the course schedule and reading assignments throughout the term.

Additional university information may be found at:


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