FYSM 1405B: The Long Civil Rights Movement
Fall 2023-Winter 2024

Professor Pamela J. Walker

This course will use historical games to teach you to think about big historical questions. These games will help you understand the past by immersing you in historical conflicts as a character who must make decisions, understand opposing points of view, respond to challenges, and use persuasion, subterfuge, and collaboration to achieve your goals.

These games are fun, serious fun, that will get you to engage with historical thinking in an unconventional way.

This course will also help you develop key skills that are essential to success in university. You will learn how to use the library for research, how to develop a clear academic argument in short and longer papers, how to engage in class discussions, and how to think critically about academic questions. We will also introduce you to university services including library research help, academic advising, and career services.

This course begins in the early twentieth century when urbanization, industrialization, and massive waves of immigration were transforming American life.  Immigrants, suffragettes, and labour activists all converged in Greenwich Village, New York joining artists and bohemians.  In Greenwich Village, activists and artists – men and women, immigrant and native-born American, black and white — forged new alliances, pushed boundaries, debated and discussed ideas of gender, race, class, and sexuality, and in so doing, redefined what it meant to be an American in the 20th century. What inspires people to take to the street, to engage in protest, to break laws, in an effort to transform society? The radical ideas of equality and justice, and the tactics of non-violence and protest – practiced by suffragettes and labour activists – informed and inspired protest movements during the 20th century.

In the second half of the course, we shift to the 1960s, and explore the generation of young people who brought race segregation to an end by defying its laws and conventions. They challenged southern law by sitting at lunch counters, seeking admission to all white public universities and sitting side by side with white students on inter-state buses. They faced mob violence, jail and even death. You will think about how historians understand major social change and the debates about the causes and consequences of the social transformations of the twentieth century.