FSEM 100G4 | Race & Revolution



The U.S. Civil Rights Movement was a response to a world structured by rules, institutions, and beliefs centering around race. White supremacy may be a widely discredited notion today, but our world is still largely shaped by four centuries of unapologetic racial ideology, conquest, slavery, and colonialism. In this course, we will explore the life and work of James Farmer, an exemplary leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement who taught at Mary Washington during the 1990s, the historical background to the black freedom revolution, and its ongoing relevance to our contemporary dialogues, interactions, and policies about race in the U.S. We will investigate the history of the concept of race and its impact on how we perceive ourselves and the world.

Photo of Suzanne Sumner, Professor of Mathematics

Suzanne Sumner, Professor of Mathematics

Why would I, a mathematician, want to teach a course about race and the Civil Rights Movement? I offer this question as extra credit for students in my first-year seminar section, with the hint: “Maybe it runs in the family…” Aside from that one big reason, many smaller reasons abound. I love the interdisciplinary nature of the course – this first-year seminar epitomizes the best of a liberal arts education. I love the content of the course – the readings and films are fascinating and thought-provoking. I love how the University of Mary Washington honors James Farmer’s legacy as one of the great leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. And I love working with first-year students, helping them learn to navigate the college environment. This seminar will open your eyes and make you rethink everything you thought you knew about the Civil Rights movement!