MLK vs. Malcom X

To start 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., turned his direction to the ongoing voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama.  Meanwhile, in New York, Malcolm X preached a message of black nationalism and empowerment to his growing cadre of followers.  On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated, just two days before a scheduled meeting with MLK to explore collaborative possibilities between them.

But what If February 21, 1965, had gone differently?  What if instead the two men had met again?

Students in Dr. Balcerski’s HIS 322: African American History from 1877 took up the challenge and debated amongst themselves from the point of view of these famous black leaders.  The debate questions were as follows:

  1. It’s February 23, 1965, and some say that the Civil Rights movement has achieved all that it can.  Why should we follow your movement going forward?  What will you achieve in the next 5 years for African Americans?
  2. What does your opponent get wrong about non-violence and/or the use of force in the struggle for Civil Rights?  Be specific.
  3. Fifty or so years from now, say the year 2017, what will be the plight of African Americans?  What can we expect politically, socially, and culturally as the result of your movement?

As with the first class debate, the students divided into two larger groups—either MLK or Malcolm X—and each side worked in smaller groups to prepare key points of supporting evidence.  From these smaller teams, three spokespersons were chosen to participate in the debate, with each person permitted one minute for a statement and thirty seconds for rebuttal.  Professor Balcerski scored the debate.  Each side offered compelling answers, so much that Professor Balcerski judged the debate to be a tie.

Following the debate, the class further discussed the points made and offered their thoughts on potential areas in which the two sides could have worked together.  Perhaps, as both the students in HIS 322 and scholars of the Civil Rights Movement have suggested, creative conflict among African American leaders has been a positive force in the progress of the African-American odyssey in the United States.

Debating African American Leadership

In Dr. Balcerski’s HIS 322: African American History from 1877, students debated a series of questions about the famous African Americans Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. The questions were as follows:

  1. It’s a new century in America.  What do you make of the plight of African Americans in the year 1900?
  2. Outline your views on education and citizenship.  What does your opponent get wrong on these subjects?
  3. What comes next?  How will the African American experience change over the next 50 years?  What will America in 1950 look like for African Americans?

Divided into two larger teams—either Washington or DuBois—each side worked in smaller groups to prepare key points of supporting evidence.  From these smaller teams, three spokespersons were chosen to participate in the debate, with each person permitted one minute for a statement and thirty seconds for rebuttal.  Professor Balcerski scored the debate.

Each side offered compelling commentary on the historical questions of the best possible tactics for African Americans in the year 1900.  While both sides faithfully defined their views, Professor Balcerski awarded the win to the DuBois team.  Both sides left with smiles on their face, as seen in the photo taken after the debate.

Now everybody shake hands...

Now everybody shake hands…

Stay tuned for the next debate, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will face off against Malcolm X in the year 1963!

 

Dude, this sounds like a great class

Two, in fact.

The History department is offering two summer courses for 2017, for those of you looking for some extra credits on an interesting topic:

Dr. Carenen is offering HIS 362: Hot Wars in the Cold War, offered from 31 July-18 August on MWF from 9:00-4:15 PM:
After World War II, two great superpowers emerged that would challenge each other for total global domination. Despite a massive arms race and the introduction of nuclear weapons, the United States and the U.S.S.R. never entered into direct armed confrontation. They almost did, though. And they used other nations as proxies in their colossal struggle against each other, particularly in Asia. In the half-century that marked the Cold War, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. engaged in warm and hot wars that affected millions of people around the globe and altered all aspects of life for the citizens of many nations, including their own. This course will briefly examine the origins of the Cold War, the nearly hot interruption of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the hot wars of Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. Counts as a History elective or LAC Tier 2 Individuals and Societies.

Dr. Davis is offering HIS 116: Intro to Modern World History, meeting 5-17 June, MTWR from 12:00-3:20 PM:
An intensive version of HIS116, this course introduces students to the major themes and problems of world history since 1500, with an emphasis in interconnection, global exchange, and long term environmental and human change in the non-US Americas, Eurasia, and the African continent. Topics include the world silver trade, European imperialism, Islamic empires, revolutionary socialism, nationalism, and the global history of products such as rubber, coffee, opium during the nineteenth century. We will also consider the changing role of world history for historians. Readings include Roberts Marks’ Origins of the Modern World and multiple primary sources. Students will be evaluated through essays, short quizzes, and class participation. Satisfies a Tier I LAC requirement

 

C-SPAN American History TV comes to Eastern!

On Thursday, November 12, 2015, Professor Balcerski’s HIS 120: Early American History to 1877 class was filmed by C-SPAN American History TV for their program “Lectures in History.”  Professor Balcerski delivered a lecture entitled “The Political Culture of the Antebellum Congress.”  The lecture will eventually air on television (date TBD) and the show’s web site at URL: http://www.c-span.org/series/?lecturesInHistory

Professor Balcerski lectures to his HIS 120 class for C-SPAN American History TV.

Debate over Manifest Destiny

In HIS 241: The American Frontier, students debated the question: “To what extent was manifest destiny inevitable?”  Divided into two larger teams—either “For” or “Against” the question—each side was asked to work in smaller groups to prepare key points of supporting evidence.  From these smaller teams, two spokespersons were chosen (nicknamed “Lewis and Clark”) to participate in the debate, with one sub-group each offering an opening statement of five minutes, a rebuttal of two minutes, and open-ended debate of five minutes.  Professor Balcerski scored the debate.  Each side offered compelling commentary on the historical questions of expansion of the American nation, the process of frontier settlement, and the removal of Native Americans.  While both sides faithfully defined their views, Professor Balcerski awarded the win to the “Against” team.  Both sides left with smiles on their face, as seen in the photo taken after the debate.

Students who debated pose for the camera in the American Frontier class

DR. KIRCHMANN’S SEMINAR STUDENTS TAKE A TOUR OF THE WINDHAM TEXTILE AND HISTORY MUSEUM IN WILLIMANTIC

History majors from HIS 400 seminar in American History toured the Windham Textile and History Museum in Willimantic. The tour was led by the Museum’s Educator and local historian Beverly York. Among other things, the group had a chance to see the upcoming exhibit on the work clothing, which will soon be open to the public. Over the years many history majors held their internships at the museum, contributing greatly to a number of permanent exhibits there. Eastern’s History Club also volunteers at the museum.