African American Political Thought


POL 4S6. African American Political Thought

Dr. Floyd W. Hayes, III Office: LAEB 2254
Fall 1995
Office Hours: MWF1:00-3:00 P.M.,
MWF 11:30 A.M.12:20 P.M. or by appointment
BAFB 1254 Office Phone: 494-2785
Purdue University

Purpose of the Course

This course is designed to introduce students to African American political and social ideas. Through critical examination of some of the major expressions of that discourse, we hope to arrive at some understanding of the principles, goals, and strategies developed by African American women and men. The course will focus on major philosophical, theoretical, and ideological formulations put forward during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In light of the historic and contemporary problems associated with race, class, and gender oppression, we will probe carefully the manner in which these structures of domination and exploitation have differentially and similarly affected and infected black women and men. We also will study closely contrasts and similarities in the ideas put forward by African descended women and men in their monumental struggle for human rights in America. In this way, the course will highlight the critical significance of black feminist social and political thought.

Political thought is the practice of theoretical, philosophical, or ideological construction that attempts to say something meaningful about how individuals a n d groups organize and conduct their lives. It is an activity, a process, a conversation that situates the observing or theoretical self within an everyday life world that involves speculation and some separation from the ongoing processes of political life. In this view, political thought is that discourse concerned with the ways in which the human self relates to surrounding forms of cultural, economic, and political life.

Black political and social ideas reflect the attempt to construct an African American identity and community in response to historical and contemporary structures a n d processes of dehumanization, exploitation, and oppression where rugged individualism and the lust for power and private wealth have corrupted America's national character, political culture, and institutional practice. These conditions also have influenced the thinking and behavior of African Americans and have established and reproduced systems of domination which African descended Americans continue the struggle to dismantle. Yet, as a result of the Atlantic slave trade and chattel slavery, which served to create a new people, African Americans are among America's truly native populations. The often ambivalent condition of being African American simultaneously excluded from and included in the American political community provides the theme for this course: "Power, Interpretation, and Difference: Duality in African American Discourse."

The rationale for this course is rooted in the necessity of every generation to grasp the character and dynamics of social development of earlier periods. For African Americans, the historic process of dehumanization, which set in motion their struggle for salvation and survival, continues to operate today. We study African American political and social discourse in order to understand the meaning of the African American experience. Further, in critically examining these ideas, we also probe the character and dynamics of the American social order its contradictions and dilemmas in regard to racial, gender, and class domination. Finally, the study o f African American political and social ideas encourages us to examine ourselves and our own perspectives about the inherent contradictions between cultural domination and social justice.

Course Objectives

1. To introduce students to the development and character of African American political and social discourse;

2. To introduce students to the role that political and social ideas play in African American political life;

3. To introduce students to the interrelationship between philosophical discourse and critical social theory and their significance for interpreting the African American experience;

4. To introduce students to black feminist criticism as a dimension of African American political and social thought;

5. To help and encourage students to read, think, discuss, and write intelligently, analytically, and critically about African American social and political discourse, in particular, and the larger American social and political dynamic, in general;

6. To help and encourage students to develop a framework of ethics and values, including self confidence, self-discipline, self-organization, punctuality, and social responsibility, especially regarding academic pursuits;

7. To help and encourage students to develop an appreciation for intellectual inquiry and the search for knowledge (e.g., disciplined intelligence and t h e skills for a broadened perspective on life); and

8. To help and encourage students to develop the ability to relate ideas, knowledge, and modes of thought across traditional academic disciplinary boundaries.

Required Textbooks

Brotz, Howard, ed., African-American Social & Political Thought 1850-1920, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1992.

Carby, Hazel V., Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Collins, Patricia Hill, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge. Consciousness. and t h e Politics of Empowerment, New York: Routledge, 1990.

Davis, Angela, Women. Race. and Class, New York: Random House, 1981.

hooks, bell, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, Boston: South End Press, 1984.

McCartney, John T., Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African American Political Thought, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

Strunk, William Ir., and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1979.

West, Cornel, Race Matters, Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.

(These texts may be purchased at Von's Books on State Street.)

Course Requirements and Evaluation

1. Active and Thoughtful Class Participation 20% of Course Grade

2. MidTerm Examination Oct. 4 20% of Course Grade

3. Semester Paper Nov. 15 30% of Course Grade

4. Final Examination Dec. 8 30% of Course Grade

Grading Scale

A 90-100

B 80-89

C 60-79

D 50-59

F 49 and below

Reading. writing. thinking. and speaking are fundamental. You are expected to read thoroughly and think carefully about all assignments before coming to class and be prepared to discuss them effectively in class. You should develop personal syntheses of lectures, class discussions, and readings. That is, this course will test your ability to integrate these three bodies of knowledge and to communicate this learning both orally and in writing. Dialogue, as opposed to lectures, will be the major pedagogical strategy or teaching method employed in this class. Therefore, simply memorizing isolated facts and regurgitating them are insufficient in regard to class discussions, examinations, research papers, and grading. My desire is to challenge you to demonstrate the ability to think independently and critically about lectures, readings, and class discussions by communicating (orally and in writing) thoughtfully, intelligently, and persuasively. We may often challenge the interpretation of thinkers we read. Social and political ideas raise complex and complicated issues, allowing for differing and often competing interpretations a n d explanations. Thus, I urge you to forego the usual anxiety about always having to discover the "right" answer for questions posed. Multiple and competing answers may often be more appropriate. Our task, in the final analysis, is to develop the ability to think, speak, and write critically and intelligently about the meaning of the African American experience, particularly in the context of the larger American social dynamic. This is the formula for changing ourselves and changing society.

Examinations will be take home exercises, and they must be typed/wordprocessed. They will include essay and short answer questions. Also, you will be expected to write a semester paper. Your paper may take any of the following forms: a critical examination of the ideas of a particular thinker, a critical reflection on one or more political concepts, a study of one or more ideologies, an investigation of the role of political ideas in society or in relationship to social movements, an examination o f how political and social ideas influence public policy, an analysis of a current o r historical political or theoretical debate, or a critical reflection on an important social problem. Effective and intelligent writing is important, and improving writing skills needs to be a continuing process in our increasingly knowledge dependent and communications intensive society. Papers must be typed/wordprocessed, double spaced, and a minimum of fifteen pages long. I place tremendous emphasis on good writing. Therefore, along with content, all written assignments will be evaluated on the basis of proper organization, logical development, good grammar, correct punctuation, spelling, and neatness. This means that you should carefully proofread your work before handing it in. Assignments are due on time; I will deduct a full grade from late assignments.

You are required to read, study, and use Strunk and White, The Elements of Stvle. Also, please note that Purdue's Writing Lab is located in Heavilon Hall, room 226. Fo r appointments and other information, call its Grammar Hotline: 494-3723. Writing Lab tutors are available to help with panning, to discuss ways to develop topics, to respond as readers of drafts in progress, to assist with revising, to suggest some editing and proofreading techniques, and to help with grammar and mechanics questions. I urge you to take advantage of this service as needed.

The character of class dialogue enhances the process of learning. Dialogue also encourages the development and refinement of skills needed to practice knowledge in complex and diverse social settings the ability to keep an open mind, to stand in another person's shoes, to make decisions with others, and to make compromises while maintaining integrity. Ideas should be openly discussed and debated so that people can choose the ones they will endorse. Hence, it is important that all cl ass members actively participate in class discussion. To accomplish these objectives, study/discussion teams of about three students will be assigned the responsibility of leading each day's discussion and analysis of the required reading. They will summarize key ideas, themes, and issues; raise questions for further discussion, analysis, and clarity; provide constructive criticism when appropriate; and point out the interrelationship between and among readings when possible.

I want to encourage you to feel free to discuss with me the course, your work, goals, or related matters. I consider my office hours to be a special time reserved for you. Because I think that the relationship between student and instructor is a key to student academic and intellectual development, my office hours can provide a n informal setting where we can get to know each other better. However, if the posted time is inconvenient for you, please do not hesitate to make an appointment.


Thinking is thinking when it answers to what is most thought provoking. In our thought provoking time, what is most thought provoking shows itself in the fact that we are still not thinking.

Martin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?

Section A: Introduction

M Aug. 21 Purpose of the Course, General Overview, Educational Philosophy, and Expectations Readings, Assignments, and Study/Discussion Teams

W Aug. 23 The University Experience and the Dialogical Method: Student Knowledge and Expectations, Students and Professors as CoLearners and Strategies for Intellectual Growth and Academic Advancement

F Aug. 25

Preparing for your future. The Critical Importance of Education in the Age of Advanced Social Complexity (an Emerging Post industrial managerial World): Excellence, Social Responsibility, and the Practice of Knowledge

READ & STUDY: Strunk and White, The Elements of Style RECOMMENDED:

Peter F. Drucker, Post-Capitalist Society, New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

John P. Fernandez, The Diversity Advantage, New York: Lexington Books, 1993.

Charles Handy, The Age of Unreason, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1989.

Robert Reich, The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Ca~italism, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Alvin Toffler, Power shift: Knowledge. Wealth. and Violence at t h e EdYe of the 21st Centurv, New York: Bantam Books,1990.

Section B: Genealogy of African American Political and Social Thought: Contradictions Between American Democratic Principles and t h e Practice of Chattel Slavery early Pan Africanism & Vindicationism

M Aug. 28 READ: McCartney, Chaps. I & II

W Aug. 30 READ: Brotz, pp. ix33

F Sept. 1 READ: Martin R. Delaney in Brotz, pp. 37-101


W Sept. 6 READ: Edward W. Blyden in Brotz, pp. 112-139

F Sept. 8 READ: James T. Holly in Brotz, pp. 140-170

M Sept. 11 READ: Alexander Crummell (Handout) and in Brotz, pp. 171-190

Section C The Dehumanization Process and (Re!Fashioning Black Womanhood From Slavery to Freedom: Farly Black Feminist Thought and the Struggle for Identity and Community

W Sept. 13 READ: Davis, Chaps. 13

F Sept. 15 READ: Carby, Chaps. 13;

M Sept. 18 READ: Carby, Chaps. 4 & S

W Sept. 20 READ: Carby, Chaps. 6 & 7

Section D The Abolitionist Movement: Contradictions and Dilemmas

F Sept. 22 READ: Davis, Chaps. 4 & 5

M Sept. 25 READ: Davis, Chaps. 6 & 7

W Sept. 27 READ: McCartney, Chap. III; Henry H. Garnet (Handout) & in Brotz, pp. 199-202

F Sept. 29 READ: Frederick Douglass in Brotz, pp. 203-226

M Oct. 2 READ: Frederick Douglass in Brotz, pp. 226-267

W Oct. 4 READ: Frederick Douglass in Brotz, pp. 303-331


Section E: The Politics of Accommodation and Resistance at the Dawn of the 20th

C e ntur v

F Oct. 6 READ: Davis, Chaps. 8 & 9

October Break No Class

W Oct. 11 READ: McCartney, Chap. IV

F Oct. 13 READ: Booker T. Washington in Brotz, pp. 351-379

M Oct. 16 READ: Booker T. Washington in Brotz, pp. 401-463

W Oct. 18 READ: W. E. B. Du Bois in Brotz, pp. 483-508

F Oct. 20 READ: W. E. B. Du Bois in Brotz, pp. 509-549

M Oct. 23 READ: McCartney, Chap. V

W Oct. 25 READ: Marcus Garvey in Brotz, pp. 553-576

F Oct. 27 READ: Carby, Chap. 8

M Oct. 30 READ: Davis, Chap. 10

W Nov. 1 READ: McCartney, Chaps. VI & VII

F Nov. 3 READ: McCartney, Chaps. VIII & IX

M Nov. 6 READ: McCartney, Chaps. X & XI

W Nov. 8 READ: hooks, Chaps. 14

F Nov. 10 READ: hooks, Chaps. 58; Davis, Chap. 13

M Nov. 13 READ: hooks, Chaps. 912; Davis, Chaps. 11 & 12

Section G: Black Feminist Theory: Contesting Euro-Masculinist Intellectual Hegemony

W Nov. 15 READ: Collins, Chaps. 1 & 2


F Nov. 17 READ: Collins, Chaps. 3 & 4

M Nov. 20 READ: Collins, Chaps. 5 & 6

W Nov. 22 READ: Collins, Chaps. 7

F Nov. 24 READ: Collins, Chaps. 8 & 9

M Nov. 27 READ: Collins, Chaps. 10 & 11

Section H: Cynical Disillusionment and Cultural Despair in Post-modern America: Discontinuity and Fragmentation

W Nov. 29 READ: West, Chaps. 1 & 2

F Dec. 1 READ: West, Chaps. 3 & 4

M Dec. 4 READ: West, Chaps. 5 & 6

W Dec. 6 READ: West, Chaps. 7 & 8



(Model Title Page)


f o r

Dr. Floyd W. Hayes, III

Department of Political Science

Purdue University

b y

KiaLillian Nicole Hayes

Political Science 456

African American Political Thought


(Do not abbreviate)

Term/Research Paper Design

Your paper should contain the following elements:

1. Statement of the subject, theme, issue: what is your paper about?

2. Significance or importance of the subject, theme, issue.

3. Purpose for writing the paper: state clearly what you intend to do. Example: to describe, study, analyze, investigate, document, examine, probe, compare, criticize, explore, explain, etc.

4. Problem: in regard to your subject, what problem or question are you dealing with or answering?

5. Review of related literature.

6. Thesis: what is your thesis, theory, or argument? If you are employing a theory or testing a theory derived from your research, indicate the author or source. Alternatively, you may be attempting to clarify ambiguities in competing theories or arguments. State them and y o u r synthesis of or alternative to them. Introduce and define key theoretical concepts.

7. Method of analysis: empirical, statistical, etc.? I strongly suggest a developmental method which contains the following elements:

a. Note trends, developments, and future challenges related to y o u r subject (including data: empirical, statistical, case studies, interpretative, etc.);

b. Expose contradictions, logical inconsistencies, problems, stereotyping, or mythmaking in your subject;

c. Pose dilemmas, ambiguities, paradoxes, or self-fulfilling prophecies that emerge as a result of contradictions;

d. Construct positive alternatives to the above.

8. Scope and limitations of your paper. You cannot cover everything; specify the parameters of your paper. Limit your discussion to a subject you can handle comfortably. Otherwise, you may end up with a running commentary that rambles on and on but says very little o f substance.

9. Your evaluation and/or policy recommendations, if necessary.

10. Summary and/or conclusion.

11. Endnotes and/or references cited (consult writing guide for correct form) .

12. Pages must be numbered.