Course Outline: African American History

Jill Bass

Brief overview:

This course is for U.S. history credit and is a survey of African American history, beginning with a brief history of Africa pre- 1400’s. The course will examine significant events in African American history since the importation of Africans as slaves to the Americas, including but not limited to: the role of African Americans in the American Revolution, the Atlantic Slave Trade, slavery in the U.S., abolitionism, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Great Migration and the Civil Rights movement.

Target Population:

This course is designed for middle level students at Satellite Academy Queens. These are students who have completed their first semester at Satellite. This is a heterogeneous grouping that includes special education as well as regular education students, and students with anywhere from a very few number of credits to almost graduating.

Goals and Objectives:

  • To become knowledgeable of significant events in African-American history, particularly events that may be neglected from a more traditional U.S. history course.
  • To read primary source documents and critically analyze historical significance.
  • To analyze advantages and disadvantages of primary and secondary sources.
  • To conceptualize a chronological understanding in U.S. history, including cause and effect.
  • To work cooperatively in groups
  • To debate historical ideas
  • To develop annotated time-lines of key events in African-American history to visually conceptualize the chronological progression and cause/effect relationships of historical events
  • To research aspects of African American culture
  • To empathize with historical figures and empower oneself as making history.


Major Topics/Themes:

  • Africa – Ancient civilizations, geography

  • Atlantic Slave Trade

  • Slave narratives – Olaudah Equiano and Harriet Jacobs

  • Slave revolts

  • Abolitionism

  • Dred Scott case

  • Colonization debate – should African Americans "return" to Africa

  • Civil War

  • Reconstruction

  • Plessy v. Ferguson

  • Great Migration

  • Harlem Renaissance

  • Civil Rights Movement

  • African American culture

  • significant figures in African American history

Alignment to Standards:

History Standards:
1.a. Analyze aspects of (African) American culture
3.a.b.c. Study about the major social, political, economic, cultural and religious developments in U.S. history
4.a.b. Analyze historical narratives and consider different historian’s analyses of the same event

Civics Standards
2.a. Trace the evolution of American values, beliefs and institutions
3.c. Describe how citizenship is defined by the Constitution and important laws
4.b.c.d.e.f The ability to probe ideas and assumptions, ask and answer analytical questions….

Resources and materials:

Most primary source readings will be taken from:

Crossing the Danger Water: Three Hundred Years of African-American Writing Edited by Deidre Mullane

A History in Their Own Words: The Black Americans by Milton Meltzer

Secondary source readings will mostly come from:

The United States and Its People by David King, Norman McRae and Jaye Zola.

Films might include: segments from: the Eyes on the Prize series, Glory, Ms. Evers Boys, Malcolm X, Amistad, The Color Purple, The Killing Floor and more to be announced.


A variety of assessment measures will be used including, but not limited to: quizzes and tests, essays, comprehension questions, role play, group work, creating newspapers for historical events, historical diary entries, debates, presentations, writing first person narratives, interviews and annotated time lines.