AAS 100 Syllabus

Introduction to African American Studies: Baltimore Riots 

AAS 100 Fall 2015

Math Science Center N306

Emory University Atlanta, GA

Clearly both in the instance of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, these are manifestation of Broken Windows policing.  And what they made clear is that we are the broken windows.  We constitute this threat to already existing normative order.  The police have this regulatory function that’s designed to destroy broken windows, even in a weird way to fix them by destroying them…In the history of English poetry the window has often been conceived of as a figure for the imagination, as a kind of lens through which we see, through which we envision.  To fix a broken window is to fix another way of imagining the world.  To literally fix it, to destroy it, to regulate it, to exclude it, to incarcerate it, but also at the same time to incorporate it, to capitalize upon it, to exploit it, to accumulate it…Emancipation produced two problems or extended a problem, deepened it.  The enslaved persons were protected property and at the same time they constituted a threat in their conscious activity every minute of the day to the very idea of property.  In the aftermath of emancipation when that property was no longer protected a new set of interventions and regulations had to emerge, again under the rubric of policing.  That’s Lynch Law.  Broken Windows is an extension of that.

–Fred Moten Oakland, CA December 2014


Professor Lawrence Jackson                                                      Tues & Thurs 2:30-3:45pm

Office Hours:  Weds 10am-Noon and by appointment                         lpjacks [at] emory [dot] edu

Callaway N 319A                                                                                           404-727-7982

Teaching Assistant:  Jermaine Pearson 708-228-9989        jermaine [dot] pearson [at] emory [dot] edu


Introduction to African American Studies (AAS 100), the gateway course to the major, will take as its point of departure the unrest (Uprising? Riot? Civil Disobedience?) in Baltimore City in April and May 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray.  Using the exceptionally rich heuristic device of the African American Studies discipline, an investigative tool that places at its center Africa, black people, and the black experience in the Western hemisphere, with unprecedented scope we will conduct an examination of a contemporary explosion in an American city.  Drawing from the methods and resources of history, legal theory, sociology, political science, journalism, creative writing and digital media, the course gives a broad overview to the topics and debates of disciplinary import.  However, our course departs significantly from the “container” model of student as passive recipient of research.  Students will participate fully as researchers and analysts in four broad areas as they investigate the causes and solutions to the widespread civil unrest: education, healthcare, residential segregation and mass incarceration.

The course also asks the question: What is the modern intellectual role played by American students at a premier research institution?  What is the relationship between academic research and active social movements, particularly one that has exploded into mass violence and civil unrest?  “Introduction to African American Studies, Baltimore Riots” begins with a deep investigation of the black experience that sets the ground floor of much of contemporary black life, including enslavement, racial segregation, urban migration, deindustrialization, urban spatial restructuring, political representation, healthcare disparity, mass incarceration, urban violence, and grass roots political organization.  Students will then develop projects in conjunction with groups active in reforming “inner city” education, housing, healthcare and incarceration patterns in West and East Baltimore.

Module One is the traditional classroom experience, with an emphasis on team teaching and collaborative presentations.  Module Two is a series of collective forums with peers at Morehouse College at the A3C Hip Hop Festival in October and the Hammonds House Museum in November.  Module Three is active researching and writing with the grassroots organizations in Baltimore.  Module Four is an active learning component and critical assessment during a 72 hour student visit to Baltimore in December that includes meetings with elected officials, city bureau commissioners, and community activists.

Required books & materials:

Patricia Fernandez-Kelly Hero’s Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State

Naomi Klein “Shock Doctrine”; Stephanie Black “Life and Debt”

Ta Nehesi Coates, “The Case for Reparations” Atlantic May 2014

Matt Taibbi, “Why Baltimore Blew Up,” Rolling Stone 26 May 2015


Required materials for working groups

Mass Incarceration

Khalil Gibran Muhammad The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Douglas A. Blackmon Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II


Activist Group

Leaders for a Beautiful Struggle          Dayvon Love


Health Care

Samuel Kelton Roberts Jr. Infectious Fear Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation 

Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


Activist Group

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform          Drs. Edjah Nduom & Nzinga Harris



Antero Pietila     Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City

Douglass Massey&Nancy A. Denton American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass


Activist Group

Stoke Cannady C [dot] stokey10 [at] gmail [dot] com

Jessica Lewis Right to Housing Alliance jessica [at] rthabaltimore [dot] org



Marion Orr Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore, 1986-1999

Jonathan Kozol The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America


Activist Group

Charles Dugger

Ms. Nikkia Rowe, Principal Renaissance Academy High School


Attendance/Participation:   10% You are allowed one unexcused absence.

Book Review: (2)      20%    You will write a two page, 600 word book review, one on either the film “Shock Doctrine” or “Life and Debt” and the other on the book Heroes Fight. The reviews will include one paragraph toward the beginning succinctly summarizing and explaining the main argument, and another towards the end expressing your opinion on the overall value of the work. In the middle you will provide textual evidence that supports your conclusion.

Group Presentation: 25%    Each student will participate in a research group in one of the four topic areas: education, housing, healthcare, or mass incarceration. The groups will make two scholarly presentations to the class based on their reading of the two works for each group on the syllabus. For their individual weeks, the groups will also provide a reading list to their classmates of individual chapters or outside articles and web pages totaling not more than 100 pages. The groups will post 1000-1200 word reviews of the books they presented on the classroom webpage “Baltimore Up Rising.”

Individual Journal Reviews: 10% Every student has to write a two-page journal entry on the readings circulated by the other three groups, for a total of six pages. The journal entries are reflections on the reading, important quotes that capture major points of the argument, and questions. Due November 10.

Group Reports:         35%    Each group will submit a joint written report that: (A) chronicles their work with Baltimore activist groups, including all of the written work that they collected, shared, and submitted; and (B) includes the annotated bibliography (includes scholarly works, websites, wikis, video blog and archives) shared with the group. All of the materials should be loaded up on the “Baltimore Up Rising” website.



27        Introduction

Module I.      


  • Coates, “The Case for Reparations”; Taibbi, “Why Baltimore Blew Up”

3          Erica Bruchko, AAS librarian; Wilderson, “Introduction” & “The Ruse of Analogy” Red, White and Black; Ira Berlin Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves; Patterson, “The Constituent Elements of Slavery”

8          Naomi Klein, “Shock Doctrine”

10        Stephanie Black, “Life and Debt”; Group Assignments

11        Paper Due

15        Patricia Fernandez-Kelly Hero’s Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State pp.1-113

17        Patricia Fernandez-Kelly Hero’s Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State pp.113-212

22        Patricia Fernandez-Kelly Hero’s Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State pp.213-314

24        Preparation Day for Module II; Patricia Fernandez-Kelly Hero’s Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State pp.314-end

25        Paper Due ASALAH Conference

Module II.

29        Dr. Nzinga Harrison, Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform; Jermaine Pearson, Preparation Day for Module II


1          Mass Incarceration (Malcolm X “Message to the Grass Roots”, Manning Marable

How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America Ch. 4, 8; Loic Waqcuant “From

Slavery to Mass Incarceration”)

6          Nzinga Harrison

8          Special guest David Miller Dare to Be King founder

8          A3C Hip Hop Conference Panel 5pm-6pm Loudermilk Conference Center

40 Courtland St Atlanta GA 30303

13        Fall Break

15        Classroom Group Workday: presentations and bibliographies

20        Education Presentation Marion Orr Black Social Kozol, The Shame of the Nation

22        Health Care Presentation Roberts Jr. Infectious Fear Politics, Disease, and the

Health Effects of Segregation; Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

27        Special guest Jessica Lewis Right to Housing Alliance, Baltimore

29        Residential Segregation Presentation Pietila Not in My Neighborhood;

Massey& Denton American Apartheid


3          Special guest Professor Brittney Cooper, Rutgers University

5          Mass Incarceration Presentation Muhammad The Condemnation of Blackness;

            Alexander The New Jim Crow; Blackmon Slavery by Another Name

7          Hammonds House Library Conference with Morehouse College 10am-1pm Morris Gardner

Module III.

10        Classroom Group Workday; Collective Contact with Advocacy Groups Journals Due.

12        Presentation of Proposed Deliverables Health Care

Presentation of Proposed Deliverables Residential Segregation

17        Dayvon Love co-founder Leaders for a Beautiful Struggle

Classroom Group Workday; Collective Contact with Advocacy Groups

19        Presentation of Proposed Deliverables Education

Presentation of Proposed Deliverables Mass Incarceration

24        Group consultations

26        Thanksgiving


1          Final Projects

Module IV.

3          Baltimore Trip Departing Midnite Thursday AM return Sunday Dec.6 11pm

4          Renaissance Academy High School, 1301 McCulloh Street; Enoch Pratt Public Library Pennsylvania Avenue Branch Group Presentation 10a-1pm, Baltimore, MD

15        Final Reports due.