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Literature and Music of the American Civil Rights Movement

Course: 518

Grade Level:
Course Length:
1 Semester
.5 Credit



Course Description:

This one-semester elective will cover the literature and music of the American Civil Rights era from its beginnings in American spirituals and blues, through Reconstruction and after (1865-1919), the Harlem Renaissance (1919-1940), and Modernism to the present. Students will read and listen to a variety of speeches, songs, sermons, poems, short stories, and plays in the context of major events of the American Civil Rights movement. Authors include, but are not limited to, Frederick Douglass, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth, Booker T. Washington, WEB DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Daniel Berrigan, Nikki Giovanni, and Maya Angelou. Along with the texts, students will gain an understanding of the role of music in the Civil Rights movement, including the blues, spirituals, rhythm & blues, gospel, jazz, and hip hop. The class will integrate the Catholic social teaching themes of solidarity, the dignity of every human person, and care for the poor and vulnerable, especially in relation to the civil rights ideal of the Beloved Community. 

*This course does not count toward the fulfillment of a student’s credit requirement in English.

Textbook/Class Resources:

  • Materials available from the instructor.