Black History Month Events Slated
By Tara Schmidt
Class of 2012
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University is once again offering African-American History this semester but for the first time this three-credit undergraduate course is taught by an African-American professor, history Instructor Kellie Carter Jackson. The course explores the experiences of African-Americans from antebellum to the present day, including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the African-American experience in the 20th century.
Jackson, a visiting professor, says the course is “packed.” The course was last taught at Gonzaga in 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected and became the first African-American president of the United States, shattering more than 200 years of history. History Professor Betsy Downey taught the course that year and previously.
Other major topics the course will cover include black leadership and ideology as well as the notion of race as a social construction. In addition, the course will address the Harlem Renaissance, labor, segregation, the Black Power movement, deindustrialization and the rise of hip-hop. The reading-intensive course also incorporates film, pop culture, debate, discussion, and field trips.
The class will visit the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and two of the oldest black churches in the state of Washington: Calvary Baptist Church and Bethel African Methodist Church, both formed in 1890. Also, students will hear from speakers including Jerrelene Williamson, author of “African Americans in Spokane,” who will discuss the historical presence of African-Americans in the Pacific Northwest. In a related note, Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin, of the iconic rap group Public Enemy, will deliver a free public lecture at Gonzaga’s Jepson Center Wolff Auditorium at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25. The lecture, titled “It Takes a Nation of Millions,” will address how hip-hop relates to Malcolm X.
A flier for Jackson’s African-American History course states, “Black History is American History,” and Professor Jackson says that is an important point that is often forgotten.
“I think there’s a tendency to want to separate the two,” Jackson said. “It’s really a class that is everyone’s history, everyone needs to know about someone like Frederick Douglass, Madame C.J. Walker or Booker T. Washington. These are people who helped shape what America is today.”
The class is open to all students and aims to foster “a wide understanding of the experiences of black Americans,” said Jackson, who taught as an adjunct instructor in the fall of 2009, but has served as a full-time lecturer since fall of 2010. She is a 2010-11 Gilder Lehrman Fellow and recently successfully defended her doctoral dissertation from Columbia University in New York City. Jackson’s dissertation is titled: “Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence, from 1850-1861.”
This past summer, Jackson presented parts of her dissertation at an international conference on “New Research in the History of Warfare” held at University of Cambridge. She also presented her work at a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa on “Best Practices for Urban Learners.”
Jackson will present a campuswide lecture and discussion on “Force: Understanding the Politics and Power of Violence in African-American History,” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 16 in the Jepson Center Wolff Auditorium. The event is free, open to the public, and is sponsored by Gonzaga’s Unity Multicultural Education Center.
Jackson also teaches courses on World and Western Civilization, and hopes to teach courses on her expertise: Slavery and Emancipation in the Atlantic World, and the Making and History of African-American Social Movements.
Following are Gonzaga events planned for Black History Month.
Click on any one of the links below for more details.
- Feb. 16: Lecture, “Force: Understanding the Politics and Power of Violence in African-American History”
For more information, please contact Professor Kellie Carter Jackson at (509) 313-6834 or via e-mail.