Komozi Woodard

BA, Dickinson College. MA, PhD, University of Pennsylvania. Special interests in African American history, politics, and culture, emphasizing the Black Freedom Movement, women in the Black Revolt, US urban and ethnic history, public policy and persistent poverty, oral history, and the experience of anti-colonial movements. Author of A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics and reviews, chapters, and essays in journals, anthologies, and encyclopedia. Editor, The Black Power Movement, Part I: Amiri Baraka, From Black Arts to Black Radicalism; Freedom North; Groundwork; Want to Start a Revolution?; and Women in the Black Freedom Struggle. Reviewer for American Council of Learned Societies; adviser to the Algebra Project and the PBS documentaries, Eyes on the Prize II and America’s War on Poverty; board of directors, Urban History Association. SLC, 1989–

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

African American Sports History and Black Cultural Revolution

Spring

This course explores the rise of the black sports ethos not only in the boxing world but also in the Negro Leagues in baseball, football, and basketball. The black sports ethos was a component part of the black exodus from southern peonage and the social and cultural changes triggered by the Great Migration: black spiritual movements, the blues ethos and jazz aesthetic in music and dance, and the National Negro Congress. This history will pay special attention to the black leadership that flowered from the sports world, including that of Paul Robeson and Muhammad Ali.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

The City and the Grassroots: The Urban Crisis and Social Movements

Fall

This course is part of the Intensive Semester in Yonkers program and is no longer open for interviews and registration. Interviews for the program take place in the previous spring semester.

Did you know that Westchester County is in violation of the civil rights orders of the US Department of Justice to desegregate its schooling and housing? Study the dramatic stories of students and parents organizing to transform not only communities and schools but also themselves. In Yonkers, the NAACP challenged decades of segregated housing and schooling in the Jim Crow North to win a landmark court victory. In New Rochelle, Paul Zuber won another landmark court case to challenge Jim Crow schooling in Westchester County. In Los Angeles, black and Chicano students joined together to stage an extraordinary school walkout based on the successful Montgomery bus boycott triggered by Mrs. Rosa Parks. In Brooklyn, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) led garbage protests, demanding freedom, justice and equality in their fight against Jim Crow in Kings County. In the Bronx and East Harlem, Puerto Rican students developed the Young Lords Party, liberation schools, a new Lincoln Hospital, a Nuyorican Renaissance, the fight for Latino rights, and an alliance with the Black Panthers. The history of successful struggles against powerlessness and poverty in the inner city is widespread. This seminar studies Yonkers, New York, in that context of The City and the Grassroots: imagination and power in urban history from Yonkers to Los Angeles. The seminar also includes our students operating a children’s journalism program in Yonkers, where children will discover their voices by reporting on issues of wealth and poverty in Westchester County.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

The Urban Crisis and the Black Revolt: The Origins of Civil Rights and Black Power in the Jim Crow North

Year

The roots of the urban crisis may be traced as far back as racial slavery and Jim Crow racism in the cities of the Jim Crow North and the Jim Crow Midwest. In Jim Crow New England in the 1830s, Julie Williams and other black students were attacked by white mobs that closed Quaker Prudence Crandall’s academy for African American girls in Canterbury, Connecticut. Next, Williams attended the Noyes Academy in New Canaan, New Hampshire, where white mobs pulled the school off of its foundation and attacked the student boarding rooms. In 1863, New York City exploded in one of the worst race riots in American history; Union troops were pulled from Gettysburg to stop the racial pogroms in Manhattan. Discover the hidden roots of ethnic cleansing and the urban crisis, as well as the untold story of the Long Black freedom movement from the Jim Crow North to the Jim Crow West, including the landmark cases in New Rochelle and Yonkers to desegregate schooling and housing in Westchester County, New York. In other words, this course explores the experience of race and citizenship from 1777 in Jim Crow New York to 2000 in Jim Crow Yonkers.

Faculty
Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Previous courses

Imagining Race and Nation

Year

This course will rethink the narrative of American urban and ethnic history up to the 21st century in terms of what historian Anthony Marx called “Making Race and Nation.” At times, a nation is born in a revolutionary war; and, at times, a nation is born in the poetic, sermonic, and lyrical dreams of a national community. America is an imagined national community, whose history is continuously reworked in poetic images that help generations of American people reorder and make meaning of this country’s dynamic chaos. Thus, an underpinning of history writing is the poetic imagination. This course explores major contours in the long road of democratic revolution that led to the Barack Obama White House. For centuries, a black president of the United States was unimaginable. Far too many Americans conceived of America as a White Nation. In that national vision, nonwhites were thought to be segregated somewhere outside of the boundaries of full American citizenship. By exploring painting, theatre, photography, film, and historiography, this course will rethink the metanarrative of American history in terms of unfinished American revolutions attempting to remake race and nation in the modern world.

Faculty

Rethinking Malcolm X and the Black Arts Movement: Imagination and Power

Year

This seminar examines the old and new scholarship on the life and legacy of Malcolm X. Since Malcolm X was not only a political leader but also a spoken-word artist, the audio-visual recordings of speeches and interviews are central to the seminar. Students will also examine the controversies surrounding not only the Manning Marable biography but also the joint authorship of the Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley. Rethinking Malcolm X involves complicating one-dimensional caricatures by studying several dimensions of the man who propelled himself from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X to El Hajj Malik El Shabazz: dimensions such as the political, cultural, spiritual, intellectual, and symbolic, as well as private and public. Students will also pay attention to the legacy of Malcolm X on the Black Arts Renaissance that changed African American identity, purpose, and direction.

Faculty