Education has been a major part of The HistoryMakers since its inception. The HistoryMakers has conducted institutes, held public programs, created curriculums and produced documentaries all in the name of education. Please read below to learn more about The HistoryMakers education initiatives.


Week One – July 8, 2012 to July 13, 2012

Summer Scholars will arrive on campus on Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8, 2012. The Project Directors and Project Staff will welcome the teachers and representatives of partner organizations at a meet and greet on Sunday, July 8th at 1:00 p.m. We would like all participants to be present for this event.

African American Politics from Reconstruction to the First World War (1865-1917)

Weekly Readings:
Frederick Douglass, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro” (1852); Du Bois, W.E.B. “Of Booker T. Washington and Others,” in The Souls of Black Folk, Chapter 3, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005), 38-51; Rudwick, Elliott. “W.E.B. Du Bois” in Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century ed. by John Hope Franklin and August Meier, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982) 63 – 84; Harlan, Louis R. “Booker T. Washington” in Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century ed. by Franklin and Meier, 10-18; Dash, Leon. “Rosa Lee’s Story,” Washington Post. Part I-VII, September18-25, 1994.

The Institute will begin with a tour of The HistoryMakers archive followed by an introductory lecture and overview of the Institute’s theme of African American political history by Project Co-Director, Dr. Ashley Howard, followed by a library orientation, historical research methods review as well as training on use of The HistoryMakers digital archive. Additionally, 2010 Institute graduate Dr. Elizabeth Renneisen will discuss pedagogy and integration of African American history into curricula. Dr. Bruce Laurie, author of Beyond Garrison: Antislavery and Social Reform will lead a session on black politics during slavery and the history of abolitionist politics. Participants will be guided in a discussion on President Lincoln’s evolving views on race and slavery and his decision to emancipate the slaves in 1863, as well as the consequences. This lecture will also cover the rise and demise of the first generation of black politicians in the late 19th century. Later in the week Professor Christopher Reed from Roosevelt University will discuss his research on African American political groups at the turn of the century, including coalition politics in Chicago as a window onto national black politics. The week will end with a workshop on oral history methods with a focus on the WPA oral histories and slave narratives as well as interviewing techniques and the particular challenges and benefits of using oral histories in research and/or for classroom instruction. Participants will also begin working on their presentations through individual meetings with Project Staff to discuss participant’s research topics in detail.

Week Two – July 16, 2012 to July 20, 2012

African American Politics through Two World Wars and Its Aftermath (1917-1954)

Weekly Readings:
Goldsby, Jacqueline. “Sign of the Times, Lynching and Its Cultural Logic,” in Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Literature; Greenburg, Cheryl. “The Roots of Organizing,” and “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work,” in Or Does it Explode?; Arnesen, Eric. ”The Black Wedge of Civil Rights Unionism,” in Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005) 84-115; Smith, Alfred E. “Why I Joined the Communist Party,” Chicago Defender, July 31, 1943.

The second week of the seminar will focus on African American politics during the two World Wars and years immediately following. The week will begin with students visiting the Vivian G. Harsh research collection at the Carter G. Woodson branch of the Chicago Public Library. This archive contains a wealth of information on the black experience in Chicago. After having a brief tour of the facilities and collections, students will be able to conduct their own research to include in their final projects. The first lecture of the week will be given by Professor Jacqueline Goldsby from New York University who will discuss the Great Migration as an informal political act of resistance to lynching and the Jim Crow South. The next day Professor Cheryl Greenberg will shift the focus to Northern strategies of resistance investigating how Pan-Africanism, the New Negro Movement, and “Buy Black” Campaigns signified not only a political tactic for resistance but the appearance of a new cultural identity amongst urban blacks. On Thursday and Friday Professor Eric Arnesen of George Washington University will highlight the connection between African American protest and labor.

Week Three – July 25, 2012 to July 29, 2012

Black Freedom Movement (1954-1975)

Weekly Readings:
Till-Mobley, Mamie and Christopher Benson, “Chapter 13,” in Death of Innocence, (New York: Random House, 2003, ) 117-127; Payne, Charles. “Men Led, but Women Organized: Movement Participation of Women in the Mississippi Delta,” in Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers, 1941 – 1965 eds. Vicki L. Crawford, et. al. (Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, 1990), 1-11.; Williams, Rhonda. “Awakening Giant: The Search for Poor People’s Political Power.” in The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women’s Struggles Against Urban Inequality.; Joseph, Peniel. “What We’re Gonna Start Saying Now is Black Power!” in Waiting Til’ The Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of the Black Power Movement.

The third week of the Institute will begin with a tour of the Chicago History Museum, followed by the opportunity for students to conduct their own research in the archives. Many civil rights activists often cite the case of Emmett Till as a seminal and catalytic moment in the Civil Rights period. Attorney/Journalist and author of Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America Christopher Benson will discuss his oral history interview of Mamie Till-Mobley and the lynching of Emmett Till. The next day Professor Charles Payne of the University of Chicago will discuss more traditional forms of civil rights activism including major leaders, organizations, protest actions, and legislative victories. For the third session of the week, Professor Payne will focus on grassroots organizing and those individuals not frequently included in the canon of civil rights heroes. The final lecturer for the Black Freedom Movement portion of the Institute will be Professor Rhonda Williams of Case Western University. She will discuss the impact of Black Power in the political formation of African American communities.

Week Four –  August 1, 2012 to August 5, 2012

Post-Civil Rights and the New Generation of Black Politics (1970 to present)

Weekly Readings:
Simpson, Dick. “Harold Washington’s Council Wars, 1983-1987,” in Rogues, Rebels, and Rubber Stamps: The Politics of the Chicago City Council from 1863 to the Present (Boulder: Westview Press, 2001) , 203-243.; Keller, Edmund J. “The Impact of Black Mayors on Urban Policy.” ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science ( September 1978)439: 1.; Reed, Jr. Adolph, “The Black Urban Regime: Structural Origins and Constraints,” in Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-Segregation Era, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 79-115.

The final week of the Institute will focus on African American politics after the Civil Rights Movement and the emergence of a new generation of black political leaders. Participants will receive training in GIS mapping technology from Professor Josh Radinsky from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Professor Michael Dawson of the University of Chicago will demonstrate the ways in which black elected officials represented both, an end to and a beginning of, black political activism in American history. The final lecture of the week will be given by Professor Adolph Reed of the University of Pennsylvania who will look at the significance of President Barack Obama’s election. During the last week of the Institute, the final three days will be devoted to formal presentations on the participants’ research projects where they will share the lesson plans based on his or her research and discuss the project’s implications for classroom curriculum. On Friday evening, The HistoryMakers will hold a farewell dinner for all Institute participants.


*Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.