Northern Illinois University
Department of Political Science
Political Science 355 - African- American Political Thought
DU – 461
Tuesday 6:30-9:10 PM
Instructor: Bertrand J. Simpson, Jr. Esq.
Office: Swen Parson 151
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday
2:30- 4:30pm and by Appointment
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to African-American political and social ideas. Through critical examination of some of the major expressions of that discourse, we hope to arrive at some better understanding of the principles, goals, and strategies developed by African-American men and women.
Political thought is the practice of theoretical, philosophical, or ideological construction that attempts to say something meaningful about how individuals and groups organize and conduct their lives. African American political ideas reflect an attempt to construct an African American identity and community in response to historical and contemporary structures and processes, which are a result of America’s national character, political culture, and institutional practice.
All students are required to purchase their own copy of: (1) W.E.B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, (2) Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, (3) Cornel West, Race Matters, (4) Shelby Steele, The Content of Our Character.
The Week of 1/12 Introduction: What is a liberal education, and how is it fostered by the study of African American political thought? What are the political and social forces, in America, that have shaped the experience of the African Diaspora? What are the major themes and issues that are presented by the readings? What lessons are to be learned from the results of the political and social striving of African-Americans, during the 19th and 20th centuries that may be of use to us in the 21st century?
The Weeks of 1/19,1/26.2/2 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
The Weeks of 2/9, 2/16 2/23, Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
The Weeks of 3/2, 3/16, 3/23, Cornel West, Race Matters
The Weeks of 3/30, 4/6, Shelby Steele, The Content of Our Character
The Weeks of 4/13, 4/20, 4/27, Oral Presentations
Policies and Expectations
Students are expectance to be attentative to lecture and discussion. Students, who sleep, read the newspaper, persistently talk with other students or are otherwise inattentive to the lecture and discussion will be asked to leave the class and will be subject to being administratively dismissed from the course at the instructor’s request. TURN OFF ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICIESES OF ANY KIND DURING CLASS!!!
THE FINAL EXAM WILL BE MAY 5, 2009, FROM 6:00-7:50, IN DU. 461
Martin L. King Jr.
“ The Purpose of Education”
It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of men in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.
Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point in time, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people does not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and facts from fiction.
The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education, which stops with efficiency, may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals….
Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living…
“ MAN IS BY NATURE A POLITICAL ANIMAL ”
“ I DON’T MEASURE AMERICA BY ITS ACIVEMENTS, BUT BY ITS POTENTIAL ”
“ ONLY THE EDUCATED ARE FREE ”
“ EDUCATIONS PURPOSE IS TO REPLACE AN EMPTY MIND WITH AN OPEN ONE ”
“ TO AQUIRE KNOWLWDGE ONE MUST STUDY, BUT TO AQUIRE WISDOM, ONE MUST OBSERVE ”
“ THEREFORE LET US PRESS ON AND PERSEVERE. THERE REMAINS MORE ON THE ROAD AHEAD, THAN WE PUT BEHIND US; BUT THE GREATER PART OF PROGRESS IS THE DESIRE TO PROGRESS ”
“ THERE IS AN ON GOING DEBATE WITHIN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY OVER THE APPORRIATE STRATEGIES AND TACTICS TO ACHIVE SOCIAL CHANGE”