WEEK 4 (Feb 8 & 10)

This week we’ll continue the story of our class by discussing parts of the freedom struggle in the late 50s and early 60s, including the rise of youth movement-making in the “Freedom Rides” and the lunch counter sit-in movement.

We’ll start that discussion on Tuesday when we read chapters 1-3 from the book In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, by famed movement historian Clayborne Carson (DCR 6). The book is an early example of scholarship of this era, but it’s wonderfully detailed and provides some important analysis. We’ll discuss this reading in our “collaborative discussion” format. Come ready to discuss if you are selected and prepare by bringing a hard copy of your 3-5 discussions questions and/or prompts.

We’ll follow our discussion with a short lecture. I’ll also return your first Critical Evaluation exercises.

On Thursday, we’ll learn more about the early 1960s in a lecture discussing the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the “Freedom Rides.” We’ll also spend some time discussing a film a historical primary document–Martin Luther King’s famous “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” King’s letter is one of the most famous documents of the movement era, as well as the most read thing he ever wrote. It is a response to a statement by white Birmingham clergy (which you can read here) but also so much more. Read King’s complete letter here.

As mentioned above, I ask you to watch a documentary called Freedom Riders before coming to Thursday’s class. It is available on the Video 47 link on Sakai. If you encounter any problems, make sure you are using a campus network and use their resources to troubleshoot your browser configuration.

See you then!

WEEK 3 (Feb 1 & 3)

This week we’ll continue the story of our class by learning more about a pivotal event–the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We’ll start our learning by reading the memoir of one of the movement’s leaders in The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It, by Jo Ann Gibson Robinson.

On Tuesday class will begin with a “collaborative discussion” activity. This format (described on our syllabus and in class) will begin most of our Tuesdays together. To prepare, you should do the reading assignment (chapter 1-6 in the Robinson book) and prepare 3-5 questions or prompts that will help inspire discussion (and analysis) for our class. You are asked to type up and print those questions/prompts, which will be collected whether or not you are on of the six (6) chosen to participate in the discussion.

We’ll spend the first 30 minutes or so discussing the readings. Then we’ll have a short lecture framing the larger picture of these times.

Thursday will be a slightly different kind of class. We’ll watch part of a documentary on the freedom struggle, and then follow that with an open discussion of the readings. This is a discussion that will involve all of us, as we try to analyze the remaining parts of the Robinson book (chapters 7-9). To give us some more to discuss, you have a single-page historical document to read, provided to you as DCR 5.

As promised, here is a short recording of Thurgood Marshall. The interviewer was Mike Wallace (later of 60 Minutes fame) who had a show in New York called “Night-Beat” which later became the nationally-aired “The Mike Wallace Interview.” This recording is likely from the first iteration of that show, from a 1957 broadcast.

Here is a link to the fully restored interview and program, if you’re interested.

WEEK 2 (Jan 25 & 27)

This week we’ll start to build our class story as we begin our substantive reading related to the freedom struggles of the post-WWII era. You’ll also turn in your first two written assignments! The first assignment is the “Who are YOU?” bio (due via email before Tuesday’s class). The other is described below.

On Tuesday we’ll discuss the readings and have a short lecture. First will be the discussion. We’ll talk about the Du Bois reading from last time, and then we’ll move on to the two new readings related to Brown v. Board of Education. If you’re not familiar with the basics of this historic Supreme court case you might want to Google it, but the readings don’t assume you know that much. Those new readings are a chapter from a book by historian James Patterson and a sample of excerpts from some historical documents related to the case. They’re both available on Sakai as DCR 2 and DCR 3.

This week’s discussion will NOT follow our regular “collaborative discussion” format, something we’ll do most other Tuesdays. So there’s no need to prepare your questions and prompts for turning in. You should still prepare yourself to make a contribution to our collective understanding, and the last page of the syllabus gives you some ways to do that.

On Thursday we’ll learn a little more about the court case and its aftermath. You have one reading to do for that class––it’s an opinion piece written by a noteworthy African American in response to the court case. “Court Order Can’t Make the Races Mix” is made available to you as DCR 4. Before you read it, do yourself a favor and read a little bit about the author online.

You will also use this historical document to write your first “Critical Evaluation Exercise” or CE. This assignment is described on the syllabus but let me emphasize some of those points here. There are three levels for us to think about when reading any historical primary document (something from the time under study): description (what it is, says, or does); interpretation (what the author or authors mean by what they say); and analysis (what’s significant or meaningful about this in the context of the times).

These assignments are about getting you to that third level. That doesn’t mean you don’t do some description and summary, or some lower level interpretation. Those are necessary steps. But don’t stop there. Pick something to focus on and build some historical understanding about the past using this document. In others words, tell us what this document illuminates about the past. Just like a flashlight bringing something into focus, how does this document bring some understanding into focus?

There are many answers to this question and many ways to go about explaining and analyzing even the same answer. Just explain your thoughts and teach us (via quotes and engagement with the source) what it means and what we can learn from it.

The assignment is due via Sakai by the start of class. Please write it in accordance with the document titled “Writing Guidelines,” which is in the “Readings” folder on Sakai. Save the document as a PDF and name it “yourlastname1.pdf” before turning it in. [For example, mine would be named “SummersSandoval1.pdf”]

Be well and be safe until next time…

p.s. Here’s an interesting article on the debates over history in Texas schools but also on the ultimate value of historical primary documents. Check it out if you’re interested.

WEEK 1 (Jan 18 & 20)

Welcome to “All Power to the People!”: Social Movements for Justice (Hist 25CH) and welcome to our course website!

My name is Tomás F. Summers Sandoval Jr. and I’ll be your instructor for the semester. This class is a very special space for me, one where I enjoy learning with you as we explore past efforts by people–people just like you and me–to create a more just world.

In the links above, you will find a website version of our course syllabus. Our “paper” syllabus, as well as all other course documents, are on our Sakai site. Please explore the above or the PDF syllabus to learn more about our forthcoming semester together. 


As you know, our class begins Tuesday, January 18 at 9:35AM. Our physical meeting will be delayed for a couple of weeks as we begin our time together using Zoom. Login information can be found on the front page of our Sakai site.