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African American Oral Traditions and Political Activism:
The Struggle for Civil Rights from 1960 to the Election of President Obama


This e- reader was compiled for the U.S. Embassy Teacher Training Seminar Berlin, March 23, 2009

Document Delivery Service (Password protected articles)


White House. Civil Rights. Program of President Barack Obama. 2009
President Obama has been a powerful advocate for the civil rights. These are the main topics of the Obama administration in this area are: Combat employment discrimination, expand hate crimes statutes, end deceptive voting practices, end racial profiling, reduce crime recidivism by providing ex-offender support, eliminate sentencing disparities, expand use of drug courts.

Election Of Barack Obama Redefined Black History. Kai Wright. National Public Radio February 24, 2009
"In the latest Tell Me More salute to Black History Month, writer Kai Wright reflects on the historic candidacy and election of President Barack Obama." ( ♪ Audio file: 3 min 36 sec)

Julian Bond: Obama's Election Has Many Meanings. Brevy Cannon. University of Virginia November 14, 2008
In this interview Julian Bond, Professor for history at the Virginia University and civil rights leader, reflects on how things have changed since Obama was elected
"Obama's 2008 victory came more than 40 years after Bond was first elected to the Georgia Legislature in 1965, and much has changed in the intervening years. Bond has had a front-row perspective on many of those changes, from his personal leadership in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to his studies as a civil rights historian, to the dozens of interviews he has conducted with prominent black leaders for U.Va.'s Explorations in Black Leadership project, to his leadership as chairman of the NAACP since 1998 — a position which led to the first of three meetings with Obama."

Remarks at the Department of Justice African American Month Program. Attorney General Eric Holder. Department of State February 18, 2009
" Every year, in February, we attempt to recognize and to appreciate black history. It is a worthwhile endeavor for the contributions of African Americans to this great nation are numerous and significant. Even as we fight a war against terrorism, deal with the reality of electing an African American as our President for the first time and deal with the other significant issues of the day, the need to confront our racial past, and our racial present, and to understand the history of African people in this country, endures. One cannot truly understand America without understanding the historical experience of black people in this nation. Simply put, to get to the heart of this country one must examine its racial soul.

“What Obama’s Election Says About America”. Juan Williams and forum. U.S. Department of State February 17, 2009
Juan Williams, a leading news analyst and journalist for National Public Radio (NPR), answered questions in a webchat on the significance of President Obama’s election and what it says about America today. The webchat ended with an open forum. This is a transcript of the webchat session.



Civil Rights Leaders Witness Emotional New Chapter. National Public Radio January 21, 2009
A roundtable of leaders from America's civil rights movement reflects on the broad implications of a first black president. Former U.S. ambassador and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr., a former presidential candidate, react to the inauguration of President Barack Obama. ( ♪ Audio file: 9 min 44 sec)

Civil Rights Leaders React to Obama's Win. National Public Radio November 5, 2008
" Sen. Barack Obama's presidential victory is being embraced by some as a modern extension of the 1960s civil rights movement, when activists protested practices that denied equal opportunity to African-Americans. The struggle was often marked with violence, causing many to lose their lives.
For some leaders of the movement, Obama's victory is a transcendent event. Among those noticeably moved by Obama's win was the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr." ( ♪ Audio file: 16min 15 sec)

Professor Discusses Leadership, Obama and Civil Rights Pioneers. Walter Fluker and forum. U.S. Department of State February 26, 2009
"Black History Month is a time when Americans celebrate the work of black leaders and civil rights pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr. This February also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, which led to the freeing of American slaves. Dr. Walter Fluker discusses the lessons of leadership - from Lincoln to Dr. King and to President Obama and how the work of these and countless others made possible the election of America's first African American president." This is a transcript of the webchat.
"Walter Earl Fluker is the Coca-Cola Professor of Leadership Studies, executive director of the Leadership Center, and professor of philosophy and religion at Morehouse College (a historically black college), where he is developing a program to strengthen civil society through ethical leadership."


An Enviable Position for Civil Rights Advocates: Activists look beyond Obmaba's historic victory to focus on specific policy changes. Justin Ewers. U.S. News & World Report December 1, 2008, 27
Justin Ewers describes the expectations of several civil rights leaders in the challenging field of civil rights." Most civil rights leader expect Obama to use the presidency's bully pulpit to frame issues like education and healthcare reform, along with his proposlas for economic stimulus and job creation, as a rising tide that lifts all boats."
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Have We Over Come? Rachel L Swarms. New York Times Upfront January 12, 2009, 12-17
Swarms summarizes the different positions on the election of President Obama. She writes: " In his quest for the White House, Barack Obama received overwhelming support from black voters - more than 95 percent of whom cast their ballots for him. But despite that support, some blacks worry that Obama's historic achievements might not be all good news for the civil rights struggle."
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In Wake of Obama's victory, civil rights leaders make adjustments. Howard Witt. Chicago Tribune November 6, 2008
Howard Witt discusses the impact of Obama's election on the developments in civil rights topics. Civil rights leaders and groups address to the continuing racial injustices in the society. They believe that the Obama presidency can bring for example new legislation for the eductaion system and criminal justice system. Witt quotes several civil rights leaders in his article.,0,537333.story

Now that Obama is president, can we declare 'Mission accomplished'? Kimberle Crenshaw. University of SouthCentral Los Angeles January 28, 2009
In her remarks at the 2009 Inaugural Peace Ball in Washington, D.C. she underlined the remarkable moment: "This is a remarkable, breathtaking moment for us all. Who can doubt that we are celebrating something special here – there’s something in the air that we can feel, touch, grasp. There’s hope in this moment, a sense of possibility that elevates our joy. Yet for those of us who are activists for peace, freedom, equality and fairness — this heady moment challenges us to keep our eyes on the prize."
Kimberle Crenshaw is professor of law at the UCLA.

On the shoulders of Giants: Senator Obama and the Future of American Politics. Paul Ortiz. truthout November 25, 2008
" The rise of Barack Obama to the office of president of the United States is a breathtaking event, but it is not an individual achievement. Senator Obama, of all people, understands this, and this is why he emphasizes time and time again his background as a community organizer. His opponents showed their true stripes by denigrating this aspect of Obama's resume. The new GOP understands community organizing to be the anti-thesis of the greed-first hyper-individualism they peddle as a philosophy."
Paul Ortiz is an associate professor in history and director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

The Other Black President. Adam Serwer. The American Prospect. March 2009
Serwer describes the changes in the NAACP in connection with a new leader generation. The 35-year-old Ben Jealous was elected as president of NAACP in 2008. Jealous is convinced that NAACP "needs to stick to its roots-advocating for better public policy".
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Recommended by Kimberly L. Phillips

Civil Rights Digital Library
" The Civil Rights Digital Library Initiative represents one of the most ambitious and comprehensive efforts to date to deliver educational content on the Civil Rights Movement via the Web."
A rich site with digital material, including images. Teachers can search in a variety of ways.

Teacher's Domain. Digital Media for the Classroom and Professional Development. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
This site will ask for the teachers to register and I hope they can do so. It’s got many oral histories, plus video clips.

University of Southern Mississippi. Digital Archive. Civil Rights in Mississippi
Here’s a site with an interview with Unita Blackwell, a civil rights activist who went on to become a mayor of a town in Mississippi.


Oral History

Center for Media & Learning, City University of New York, and the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University . American Social History Project. Students as Historians
This web site presents a collection of projects by students in colleges, universities and high schools in the field of history. The search function at this web site helps to find a specific project. The projects incude interviews, texts and images.

Center for Media & Learning, City University of New York, and the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. American Social History Project. What is Oral History?
"Oral History" is a maddeningly imprecise term: it is used to refer to formal, rehearsed accounts of the past presented by culturally sanctioned tradition-bearers; to informal conversations about "the old days" among family members, neighbors, or coworkers; to printed compilations of stories told about past times and present experiences; and to recorded interviews with individuals deemed to have an important story to tell."...
"History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web was first developed in 1998 by the American Social History Project/Center for Media & Learning, City University of New York, and the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, with initial funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Over the past several years, it has become a highly regarded gateway to web resources as well as a repository of unique teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and guides to analyzing historical evidence for high school and college students and teachers of American history."

Civil Rights Oral History Interviews. Rebecca Napi. Washington State University
This web site offers a collection of interviews conducted by Rebecca Nappi with individuals with ties to both the civil rights movement and to Spokane. In February 2001, the Spokesman-Review produced a month long series of articles on black history titled "Through Spokane's Eyes Moments in Black History," focusing in particular on the civil rights movement of the 1960s.


Civil Rights

Free at Last - The U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Electronic journal of the Department of State. January 2009
"This book recounts how African-American slaves and their descendants struggled to win — both in law and in practice — the civil rights enjoyed by other Americans. It is a story of dignified persistence and struggle, a story that produced great heroes and heroines, and one that ultimately succeeded by forcing Americans to confront squarely the shameful gap between their universal principles of equality and justice and the inequality, injustice, and oppression faced by millions of their fellow citizens."

Library of Congress. American Memory Project. Voices of the Days of Slavery
" The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond. "

Library of Congress. The Learning Page. Civil Rights
This web site is a collection of primary sources, online resources, lesson plans, a bibliography and collection connections.

Virginia University. Oral History Project. First Black Women ar Virginia Tech
" The Black Women at Virginia Tech History Project is a multi-phase research and educational project that involves identification of the first black women students, staff, and faculty at Virginia Tech and the collection of their oral history narratives. The interviews focus on the entry experience and the interviewees' perceptions of the climate and attitudes within the university community particularly as pertains to race and gender. Another phase of the project involves the design and execution of program events to enhance communication within and beyond the university community."


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