Prof. Gabrielle Foreman
ext. 1472 or 1751
(during office hours only)

Office Hours:
Swan N2:
T/Th 6:30-7:30 PM
and by appointment
Pauley Hall Lobby:
T 9:00-10:00 PM
(by appointment)


Race, Resistance and Activism in the Nineteenth Century

Course Description

In this class, we’ll examine the writings and lives of nineteenth-century activist-authors. Our subjects will include Harriet Jacobs, the post-war advocate for freed people and author of the most famous woman’s slave narrative and Frederick Douglass, whose speeches, newspaper articles and novella based on an actual slave mutiny we’ll explore. Rebecca Latimer Felton, a powerful white activist in the post Civil War South who was a progressive activist on issues of education and prison reform for the white poor and the most rabid racist women’s leader of her era, will be our next subject. We’ll then examine the work of Reverend Harvey Johnson and Amelia Johnson. Amelia Johnson wrote the second full-length novel penned by a Black woman, a work widely characterized—and dismissed—as a temperance novel; she also wrote strident pieces in the Black press. Rev. Harvey Johnson was the most important and the most radical Black minister—and legal activist—in postbellum Maryland. We will end with Ida B. Wells’s protest writings and anti-lynching activism with allies such as Albion Tourgee, who wrote the brief for Plessy V. Ferguson. We will pair activists’ novels, narratives, speeches, sermons and newspaper writing with secondary sources including selections from biographies and critical essays. Requirements will include primary research, community based learning projects and web work.

Options for the Final Project:

Expectations for the Final Project

Community-Based Projects

Community-based projects will extend to our own time the kinds of nineteenth-century projects we’re studying. For instance, just after the Civil War, Harriet Jacobs was a strong advocate for once enslaved people who took their freedom into their own hands by fleeing the South as the War broke out. She took on powerful forces to help secure affordable housing and educational opportunities to (new) citizens treated as refugees. Rev. Harvey Johnson linked with other ministers and founded a group to fight for judicial reform, protection from workplace harassment and educational access. We will partner with groups that build on this legacy of struggle and who are working on similar issues. This project is worth 45% your total grade. Approximately 10 hours a week (including travel time).


Community Based Organizations:




Downtown Women's Action Coalition

Los Angeles Community Action Network: The organizing principle of the LA CAN is to build indigenous leadership within the Central City East community to address the multitude of problems faced by homeless and very low-income residents of the community.
[job description and contact info]

DWAC’s mission is to empower women who live and work downtown to influence public policy change that promotes health, safety, and economic and social justice for women through collective action, public education, community building, advocacy and leadership opportunities.
[job description and contact info]

CLUE Clergy And Laity United For Economic Justice: an interfaith association of over 600 religious leaders throughout Los Angeles County who come together to help the working poor.
[job description and contact info]
[student descriptions]
FACTS Families Against Three Strikes works to amend the 3-Strikes law in California so it is only applicable to violent felonies.
[job description and contact info]
[student descriptions]


Previous Partners:
YWCA Glendale


Promoting the advancement of women and working to prevent domestic violence.
[job description and contact info]
[student descriptions]
Inner City Struggle Promotes safe, healthy and non-violent communities by organizing youth and families in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles to work toward economic and social justice.
[job description and contact info]
Small Schools Alliance Small Schools Alliance is dedicated to transforming Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) into the best public school system in the nation within the next 10 years.
[job description and contact info]
[student descriptions]

The Southern California Library is a vital community resource in the heart of Los Angeles dedicated to education for social change. The Library offers unique and accessible collections and programs on Southern California's social and progressive history. We engage people across generations in using history to advance social justice.
[job description and contact info]


Primary Research Project

Students who choose this option will work on some aspect of the Creole Mutiny, a major international event precipitated by a mutiny in which 19 enslaved people freed themselves and more than a hundred others by steering a ship bound to the New Orleans’ slave market to the Bahamas instead, which was by that time free British territory. The US government was incensed by British “interference” and the possibility of open hostility was finally arbitrated. In research papers, students can explore this mutiny from one of various different angles: by trying to trace the mutineers and their descendents, by researching the leader’s early allies, by examining newspaper accounts of the mutiny, by comparing the Creole to other mutinies, by examining the insurance records of the slave holders who filed loss reports or by looking at the international diplomatic dispute that ensued, for example. In total, this project is worth 5O% of the final grade.


Grade Percentages:

Community-Based Project Option:

Intellectual Journal:


Forum Participation—must be in all sections: 10%

Class Participation – includes attendance:

Community Project Idea 2.5%
Project Plan with CBO Supervisor 7.5%
Oral Presentation: (15-20 minutes) 20%
Written Project Paper 15%
Self Assessment 5%



Primary Research Option:

Intellectual Journal:


Forum Participation—must be in all sections: 10%

Class Participation – includes attendance:


Research Plan:
(two pages with annotated bib and potential sources)

Primary Research Paper on Creole: 
(with appendix including all archival sources)
Oral Presentation: 15%


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