The history and literature of race relations in America



(400 to 600 words) In a conversation, a friend says to you that the reading of the history and literature of race relations in America is no longer necessary since everyone enjoys equal rights and opportunities today. Having immersed yourself in this history and literature this week, would you agree or disagree with your friend, and why? 

Any three of these references:

The Dispossession of Native Americans:

Howard Zinn: A People’s History of the United States, Chapter 1: Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress (1980/2005)


Howard Zinn: A People’s History of the United States, Chapter 2: Drawing the Color Line (1980/2005)

Frederick Douglass: Selections from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845)

Read these chapters: 1, 2, 4, and 7

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” (July 5, 1852)

Robert Hayden: “Runagate Runagate” [note: the speaker in this poem is a runaway slave] 

Confronting Segregation and Its Legacy:

Langston Hughes: "I, Too, Sing America" (1932)

“Harlem” (“What happens to a dream deferred?” (1951)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963)

Dudley Randall: “Ballad of Birmingham” (1969)

Malcolm X: “The Ballot or the Bullet” [full audio and text of the speech delivered on April 12, 1964, in Detroit, Michigan]

Shelby Steele: “The Double Bind of Race and Guilt” (2001)

New Freedom:

N. Scott Momaday: “The Delight Song of Tsoai-tales” (1976) [note: Tsoai-Talee is Momaday’s Kiowa name]

Sherman Alexie: “The Powwow at the End of the World” (1996)

Natasha Trethewey: “Letter Home” (2002) [note: Trethewey was appointed the 19th United States Poet Laureate in 2012]

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