The main intention of this course is to focus on the political assassinations of the 1960's as a means by which students will examine the nature and structure of power in society, specifically around issues that challenged and even threatened the democratic and constitutional processes in our nation. This is predominantly an American History class, but given the nature of the United State�s lone superpower status, obvious and inherent Global issues must be investigated.


Students will be addressing the questions, who, how, and why was JFK killed. This will involve understanding what he stood for and what he opposed, and to what forces were working against him. This will require investigating the structure of the U.S. govt., the nature of power, issues such as The cold war, Castro in Cuba, Communism and Vietnam. Students will begin by studying competing testimonies of the murder of the 35th President of the United States. The second unit of the class will involve itself with the struggle endorsed by Malcolm X in his last year of life, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in the last two years of their lives. The major focus will be on their anti-war policies in the face of the disaster in Vietnam, as opposed to the dominant political currents of that time.

The key question students will be examining is what if any, is the connection between the movements headed by these three and the critical responses to them, and their shocking deaths.

The third section of the class will focus on the student's reflection upon the process of historical representation, or in other words, how do we know what we know? The course material is very controversial in that it challenges much of the established notions of history. Rather than to shy away from controversial content, on the contrary this class welcomes students into the critical debate about competing points view and perspectives.

Why believe one source and not another? Why believe one politician and not another? What criteria does one employ to evaluate historical "evidence"? Key terms to debate will be liberal vs. conservative, hawks vs. doves, republicans vs. democrats, communist vs. capitalist, etc.

Students will be required to write out a debate between opposing sides on a particular issue related to the class. This will then lead up to an essay on the topic of "history" as a contest of ideas. Examples will be drawn from the assassination content as well as issues debated in this section and their relationship to historical understanding.

A key issue here is that the history we examine, whether in a textbook or in a film, is not the past, but merely a representation of the past. Students will examine the process by which certain facts get represented and others do not, and who is doing the representation, what are their interests, or goals?

The fourth section will involve assessment in terms of the students production and presentation of a final portfolio. Students will review their work from their journals, homework's and handouts in their folders, their research paper, their two essays, and their exam and will summarize their learning by writing a cover letter discussing their work to be presented and how this learning was helpful to them, and to how they have struggled to determine what knowledge they value and why.

Assessment tools will be journal writing, homework regularly, a research paper focusing on independent research, an oral presentation which will be done in groups of two or three, and will be supported by an informational poster. The presentation will be evaluated by their classmates, and an exam focusing on the competing viewpoints on this aspect history, and the student's own beliefs relying on evidence gained both from the class texts and their independent research. Their research paper must be a minimum of 600 words, include a minimum of six different source material, of which at least two sources must be opposed in point of view from the others. The final paper must be submitted with two prior drafts and their research notes.

Instructional Strategies:
Students will engage in a learning process that will help them develop the tools necessary to create their own understanding of these events and their significance today.

Students will engage history not as a mass of previously determined important "facts" which they must memorize or accept, rather history will be presented as a process. The notion that knowledge is neutral will be challenged by the continuous presentation of competing viewpoints and perspectives.

Given the fact of modern life that students spend more time in front of television than they do in school, as well as the belief that students often have that information is not important if it does not appear in a textbook, students will examine films, newspapers, magazines, television news reports as potentially valid texts.

Warren Commission report, Textbook, The New York Times, Time magazine, and the documentary film Four days in November.

Texts will include the film, Who Killed Martin Luther King, by Phillip Melanson, The Last Year of Malcom X's Life, by Robert Breitman, US History Texts, Vietnam and Black America by Clyde Taylor, The Assassination of Robert Kennedy documentary film, and these texts will be supplemented by Time Magazine, NY Times, and other material.