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–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

History

The Making of Black America

Open , Lecture—Year

The rise of black America transformed American society, economy, and polity, as well as religion and culture. Most school books, however, erase an epic that W.E.B. DuBois called, "the most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history." This lecture is an introduction to that hidden drama, including stories of tragedy and triumph. Discover: how the grassroots organized the Underground Railroad during bondage; the Union Leagues during Reconstruction; black populism during racial peonage; the Niagara Movement during white terror; the anti-lynching crusade during mob violence; the Universal Negro Improvement Association during the Red Summer of 1919; the Chicago Black Renaissance during the Great Depression; and the Negro Baseball Leagues during the age of Jim Crow.

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First-Year Studies: In the Tradition: An Introduction to African American History

Open , FYS—Year

African American history is an important window into the history of the United States and the rise of the modern world. This course explores classic narratives and examines major developments. The classic narratives are stories of self-emancipation and self-determination. The major developments range from the Atlantic Slave Trade to the Black Renaissance. On the one hand, students examine the dynamics of modern racism; on the other hand, students explore the contours of African American social, cultural, and intellectual history.

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Previous Courses

Making Race and Nation: Was It the New Deal or the Raw Deal for Black America?

Open , Seminar—Spring

How does state formation shape race? The New Deal marked a major turning point in American society, reshaping race, citizenship, and nation. With the introduction of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, the Housing Finance Agency, Social Security, and the GI Bill, millions of urban white working-class tenants fled slum poverty to become suburban middle-class homeowners with college, technical, business, and professional credentials. If there was a New Deal for White America, however, then there was a Raw Deal for Black America when African American taxpayers were barred from the bounty of those entitlement programs. On the one hand, this lecture explores the promise of the New Deal and the struggle of African Americans for Fair Employment and New Deal Citizenship; on the other hand, this course examines the segregated origins of the TVA, AAA, HOLC, Social Security, and the GI Bill and their impact on the postwar “racial gap” that divides America.

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Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and the Black Arts Movement: The Grassroots Awakening in the American Empire

Open , Lecture—Spring

The voices of Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and the Black Arts Renaissance changed the group identity of Black America. This lecture will examine the controversies about Malcolm X, both in life and in death. Then students will study the impact of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. on the regional, national, and international spread of Black Power experiments such as the Black Panthers and the Black Arts. If Malcolm X designed bridges to the Bandung East, then the Black Panthers and the Black Arts also designed bridges to the Bandung West. While the Bandung East developed out of the 1955 Bandung Conference for Non-Alignment and Afro-Asian Solidarity in Indonesia, the Bandung West developed in the United States out of antiracist movements of African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Mexican Americans, as well as Latinos and Puerto Ricans working together in Rainbow Coalition politics in the Long Sixties. The spread of the symbolic politics of the Black Panthers influenced not only the human-rights politics of the Young Lords and the Chicano movements but also encouraged human rights activism in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, India, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, and so forth.

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

Open , Seminar—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.

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African American Sports History and Black Cultural Revolution

Open , Lecture—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.

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

Open , Lecture—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.

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