Colloquium in History: HIST 498 B

Course Syllabus: 

Department of History
Spring 2017

Professor Quintard Taylor
Website 1:
Website 2:

Office: 316-A Smith Hall
Phone: 543-5698
Office Hours: 3:30-5:00 Tuesday


BLACK CONSERVATIVES: From the Age of Booker T. Washington to Era of Donald J. Trump

Being a black conservative is perhaps not considered as bizarre as being a transvestite, but it is certainly considered more strange than being a vegetarian or a bird watcher—Thomas Sowell, 1980


This undergraduate colloquium will critically examine the history of black conservative thought in African American history since 1895. We will focus on well-known and little known thinkers and leaders of this small but influential movement. Arguments about conservative ideas in black America have been intense and because those who claim to be conservative have been such a small minority of black thinkers and leaders, it is easy to dismiss them as irrelevant. This course will explore the question of their relevancy with the hope that every colloquium participant will draw her or his on conclusion about the importance of these ideas to the larger and ongoing debates about economic progress and racial justice for African America.


Selecting important and yet available texts for a colloquium is always a daunting task. I have tried, within the limits of our institutional and personal resources, to include the most representative primary sources and on occasion I've added analytical articles to help place the debates in their proper historical context.

There are no longer any textbooks as such for purchase or on reserve in the library for this course. All readings will be available online. Many of the readings including all of the speeches are directly available through the website, Unless otherwise indicated, each text that appears on the weekly reading schedule should be read in its entirety.


Each colloquium participant will write a 15-page paper assessing one of these key debates in African American history. Your paper should draw on primary and secondary sources but should reflect the development of your own interpretation of the issue you have chosen.

You should observe the following deadlines for your paper:

Fourth Colloquium Meeting (April 18): A Preliminary title and one-page prospectus of your paper.

Sixth Colloquium Meeting (May 4): A four-page selected annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources to be used in your paper.

Wednesday of Final Exam Week, June 7 (noon): Your Paper is due in my office.


Each colloquium participant is expected to complete and be prepared to discuss all of each week's assigned reading. Each student will be expected to chair at least one seminar meeting. One's responsibilities as chair include leading the discussion of the week's readings. The student chairing the seminar will be expected to have completed all of the assigned readings, as I expect all of the other participants as well, but she or he, if necessary, should review related readings beyond the colloquium assignment.


Your grade will be based upon three components: the quality of your participation in weekly discussions (20%), your performance as chair of your particular session (30%), and the quality of your research paper, (50%)


(available for purchase online):

Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold, eds., The African American Odyssey, Vol. 2: Since 1865 (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2010)

(all are available for purchase online)

George E. Curry, ed., The Affirmative Action Debate (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1996

Jeffrey B. Leak, ed., Rac[e]ing to the Right: Selected Essays of George Schuyler (Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 2001)

John McWhorter, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America (New York: Harper Perennial, 2000)

George S. Schuyler, Black and Conservative: The Autobiography of George S. Schuyler (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House Publishers, 1966)

Shelby Steele, The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990)



March 28: Introduction: Discussion and Determination of Weekly Assignments

April 4: No Class Meeting

April 11: The Era of Booker T. Washington

Background Reading:

Hine, "The African American Odyssey," Chapter 16

William Hannibal Thomas, The American Negro: What He Was, What He Is, and What He Can Become (New York: Macmillan, 1901) 

Booker T. Washington, "The Atlanta Exposition Address," (1895)

Booker T. Washington, "Industrial Education for the Negro (1903)

Shelby Steele, “Booker T. Washington Was Right,” New Perspectives Quarterly 7 (1990) (PDF)

April 18: Black Nationalism and Black Conservatism: The 1920s

Background Reading:

Hine, "The African American Odyssey," Chapter 17

Marcus Garvey, “The Principles of the Universal Negro Improvement Association,” (1922) 

George Schuyler, “The Negro Art Hokum,” (1926)

Schuyler, Black and Conservative, Chapter 9

April 25: Anti-Communism: The 1930s and 1940s

Background Reading:

Hine, "The African American Odyssey,” Chapters 18-19

Schuyler, Black and Conservative, Chapters 10, 12, 17

Ralph Bunche, The Barriers of Race Can Be Surmounted (1949) 

Schuyler, “The Negro Question Without Propaganda, 1950,” in Leak, ed., Rac[e]ing to the Right (PDF)

May 2: The Conservative Response to the Civil Rights Movement

Background Reading:

Hine, "The African American Odyssey," Chapter 21

Zora Neale Hurston, “Letter to the Orlando Sentinel, 1955,

Reverend Joseph Jackson, “The Vote as the Only Effective Weapon in the Civil Rights Struggle,” (1964) 

Schuyler, “The Case Against the Civil Rights Bill, 1963,” in Leak, ed., Rac[e]ing to the Right (PDF Coming)

Anne Wortham, “Martin Luther King’s Flawed Dream,” (1998) 

May 9: The New Political and Economic Conservatives

Background Reading:

Hine, "The African American Odyssey," Chapter 23

Thomas Sowell, “Politics and Opportunity: The Background,” Keynote Speech at the Fairmont Conference, 1980. 

Clarence Thomas, “Why Black Americans Should Look to Conservative Politics,” Speech at the Heritage Foundation, August 1, 1987

Robert L. Woodson, Sr., “Personal Responsibility,” in The Affirmative Action Debate 

May 16: The New Social and Cultural Conservatives

Background Reading:

Hine, "The African American Odyssey,” Chapter 24

Steele, The Content of Our Character, Chapter 9: The Memory of Enemies (PDF)

McWhorter, Losing the Race, Chapter 1: The Cult of Victimology (PDF Coming)

Bill Cosby, “The Pound Cake Speech,” (2004) 

Ben Carson, “The National Prayer Breakfast Speech (2013) 

May 23: No Class Meeting, Prepare Research Papers

May 30: Presentation of Paper Topics


William Hannibal Thomas

Booker T. Washington

Marcus Garvey

George Schuyler

Ralph Bunche

Zora Neale Hurston

Robert C. Weaver

Rev. Joseph Jackson

Thomas Sowell

Clarence Thomas

Robert L. Woodson

Anne Wortham

Shelby Steele

Bill Cosby

Ben Carson

John H. McWhorter

Mildred Fay Jefferson

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