Dr. Suzanne Smith
Dept. of History and Art History
George Mason University
What are a citizen’s rights and obligations?
In the United States, who is granted citizenship and why?
Historically, who gets excluded from full citizenship and why?
If “majority rules” in a democratic society, what recourse does the minority have? How do minority groups get heard?
How does discrimination manifest itself? (E.g. the right to drink from a fountain, to vote, to handicapped access to a building)
Civil Rights Constituencies
Gays and Lesbians
Rights vs. Obligations
Have students explore what it means to be a full citizen of the United States.
What are some of our rights? To free speech, to bear arms, to vote
What are the obligations of citizenship? To serve in the military, to serve on a jury
Can some aspects of citizenship be both a right and an obligation?
Civic Nationalism: a belief in the fundamental equality of human beings, in every individual’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in a democratic government that derives its legitimacy from the people’s consent.
Racial Nationalism: a belief that conceives of
America in ethnoracial terms, as a people held together by common blood and skin color and by an inherited fitness for self-government. From the perspective of this racialized ideal, Africans,
Asians, nonwhite Latin Americans, and, in the
1920s, southern and eastern Europeans did not belong to the republic and could never be accepted as full-fledged members.
Civic vs. Racial Nationalism
In his book, American Crucible:Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century , historian Gary Gerstle argues “that the pursuit of these two contradictory ideals--the civic and the racial--has decisively shaped the history of the American nation in the twentieth century.”
Moreover, Gerstle argues that at times of war, racial nationalism often takes precedence over civic nationalism.
African-American Civil Rights History:
Moving Beyond the Myths
How do we teach students about the complexities of civil rights history in light of the powerful collective memories about it?
How can we teach students to see themselves in the history of the civil rights struggle? In other words, as a movement that succeeded as the result of courageous, ordinary Americans who worked at the grassroots level--rather than just the efforts of mythic leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.
“A Marble House Divided”:
Understanding the Power of
What is the central argument of Scott
Sandage’s article, “A Marble House
How could his main points be used to help students think about the importance of symbolism in political and social movements?
Civil Rights Activism
Direct Action: sit-ins, boycotts, and picket lines
Legal Action: discrimination lawsuits, Supreme
Court rulings ( Brown decision)
Legislative/Political Action: voting, running for office, legislative rulings (e.g. Civil Rights Act of
Cultural Expression: freedom songs, plays, poetry, film, and visual arts
Major Strategies of
African American Movement
Social Justice : Non-violent struggle for desegregation of public facilities and schools. (1955-1964)
Voting Rights --Political Empowerment
Economic Justice: Shift to Militancy and Racial Separatism (1965-1970 to
Social Justice: 1954-1963
1954: Brown v. Board of Education
1955: Montgomery Bus Boycott
1957: Little Rock High School Case
1960-1963: Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides
1963: The March on Washington
Biggest Victory: Civil Rights Act of 1964
Voting Rights: 1964-1965
1964: Freedom Summer and founding of
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
1965: The Selma Campaign
Biggest Victory: The Voting Rights Act of
1966: Southern Christian Leadership
Conference’s Chicago Campaign
1968: The Poor People’s Campaign
Late 1960s: The Rise of the Black Panther
Biggest victory: Affirmative Action policies