The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



20 units


3000 level

Course handbook


This course traces the history and culture of African Americans since World War II, focusing on individuals as well as social trends that informed the twentieth century struggle for racial equality. While most attention will centre on the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the leadership of Martin Luther King, the course also explores the more extreme expressions of black militancy and separatism tied to 'Black Power' and the leadership of Malcolm X.

Moving into the post-civil rights era, we will chart the 'progress' made by African Americans in the United States after 1968, emphasizing the emergence of a black middle class alongside black politicians and a black entertainment industry, dominated by musicians, actors and sporting heroes. But also by scrutinizing the experiences of the black poor in this period, we will remain attuned to the persistence of racial disadvantage in America and raise fundamental questions about the nation's future in addressing the systemic roots of inequality.

Finally, the course will conclude optimistically with an assessment of the Obama phenomenon and its meaning in the context of twenty-first century American race relations.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 2 - 2017.

Replacing course(s)

This course replaces the following course(s): HIST3150. Students who have successfully completed HIST3150 are not eligible to enrol in HIST3151.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. To familiarize students with key issues and themes in African American history from World War II to the present.

2. To expose students to a wide range of historical sources such as speeches, autobiographical accounts, legal documents, oral histories, photographs and film.

3. To teach students how to analyze these sources in the context of African American history.

4. To develop students' ability to think critically and to conduct research.

5. To improve students' written and oral communication skills.


Course topics may include:

  • the impact of World War II on the political consciousness of African Americans;
  • the civil rights and black power movements of the 1950s and 1960s;
  • the leadership of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X;
  • the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organisations;
  • the rise of the black middle class in the 1970s;
  • the deteriorating circumstances of the 'black underclass' in the 1980s and 1990s;
  • black entertainment (especially music, movies and sport);
  • the Los Angeles Riots;
  • the OJ Simpson case;
  • Hurricane Katrina;
  • the Barack Obama phenomenon;
  • and/or other similar topics as appropriate.


This course replaces HIST3150. If you have successfully completed HIST3150 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

20 units in History at 1000 level or equivalent.

Assessment items

In Term Test: Class Examination

Essay: Short essay

Annotated Bibliography: Annotated Bibliography

Essay: Research essay 3000 word

Participation: Group/tutorial participation andcontribution