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Black History Black Freedom And Black Love

via MasterClass


From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.


  • Meet Your Instructors
    • In this introduction to Part I of a three-part class, seven Black scholars invite you to learn history not taught in U.S. schools. Examining white supremacy and its antithesis—Black love—this class will challenge how you view race in America.
  • Black Love: A Love Like No Other
    • Professor Cornel West explains the significance of Black love in all its forms—art, culture, family, community, and dignity—and why, despite trauma, Black Americans continue to create freedom fighters to spread Black joy and win liberty for all.
  • Black People and the Promise of Democracy
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project, shares how Black American resistance has historically been a major democratizing force in America, and offers insight on the complicated relationship between Black citizens and patriotism.
  • Plantation: The Birthplace of American Capitalism
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones exposes the true foundation of American capitalism—the chattel slavery of Black people in the South—and how those roots continue to inform much of our modern-day economic systems.
  • Consider the Humanity of the Enslaved
    • Black Liberation Movement icon Angela Davis speaks to the importance of thinking about enslaved people as people much like us—and not objectifying them strictly as victims of a violent, inhumane economic system.
  • The Triumph of Black English
    • Linguist John McWhorter shares the origins of Black English. Often dismissed as slang, Black English is a uniquely sophisticated form of communication with its own nuances and complexities.
  • Black Women & The Struggle For Liberation
    • Angela Davis describes slavery’s lasting impact on Black women—from emancipation to the Moynihan Report and beyond. She focuses on the lasting significance of Black matriarchy and how Black women were at the crux of two great struggles.
  • What They Didn't Teach You About the End of the Civil War
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones unravels the truth about what happened after emancipation, beginning with the Great Nadir. Black codes were introduced, Black businesses were destroyed, and Black Americans were terrorized by the practice of lynching.
  • Why You Should Know the 14th Amendment
    • Civil Rights lawyer and NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill explains the 14th Amendment and how in making emancipated people full citizens, it also allowed for birthright citizenship and the “nation of immigrants” narrative.
  • Emancipation & The Supreme Court
    • Constitutional law expert Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw explains the Reconstruction Amendments, and how white supremacists successfully resisted reform through the Supreme Court.
  • The Redeemer Constitution
    • Kimberlé Williams Crewnshaw offers the real story of how the promise of the 14th was thwarted, almost before the ink was dry, by white supremacists. See how the legacy of the Redeemer Constitution continues to bleed through into politics today.
  • Black Health in America
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones juxtaposes the need for universal healthcare with the fact that Black people have one of the lowest life expectancies in America and have historically been underserved by a medical system that does not treat them equitably.
  • Freedom, Love & The Blues
    • Angela Davis discusses what life was like for Black women after the end of slavery, and the unique experience of Black women in blues music.
  • Equality in Education Before Brown
    • Discover how Black children were educated before the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, from the creation of common schools to the impact of school desegregation on Black children who were never intended to be assimilated into public schools.
  • Why HBCUs?
    • Writer and journalism professor Jelani Cobb discusses the importance of historically Black colleges and universities and the role they have played since before the Civil War, educating Black luminaries like Thurgood Marshall and many others.
  • Extraordinary Black Voices
    • Explore the achievements of three exemplars of Black intellectualism and cultural leadership: legendary scholar W. E. B. Du Bois, activist Booker T. Washington, and intrepid investigative reporter Ida B. Wells.
  • The Power of the Black Vote
    • Jelani Cobb reveals the direct relationship between African Americans in the South and voter suppression efforts after the Civil War. Black Americans did not achieve all the rights of full citizenship until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • Violence, Change and The Law
    • Sherrilyn Ifill explains how Black Americans’ civil rights were curtailed through white supremacists’ reactions to the 14th Amendment. The Civil Rights Acts unraveled gains made during Reconstruction, and Jim Crow laws were enacted in the South.
  • Meet Your Instructors
    • In this introduction to Part II of a three-part class, seven preeminent Black scholars continue their journey through the history you thought you knew, considering white supremacy and Black love from the turn of the century to the present day.
  • Know the Black Intellectual Tradition
    • Jelani Cobb continues a discussion of extraordinary Black voices established in Part I, John McWhorter explores the roots of his own “heterodox” thinking, and Cornel West examines revolutionary Christianity and seminal, divergent Black thinkers.
  • Lynching, White Supremacy, and the Law
    • Sherrilyn Ifill unpacks the shameful history of lynching in America, exploring how forces of law and order were often deployed to terrorize Black citizens, such as George Armwood, whose murderers were never prosecuted or held responsible.
  • Transcending Victimization
    • John McWhorter explains how our grandfathers accomplished amazing feats despite systemic racism. Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, “The Black Metropolis,” is one example of a thriving Black community built from Black love and resourcefulness.
  • The Least Insured and the Most Sick
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones demonstrates how the legacy of slavery and forces of white supremacy have continued to impact the quality of healthcare received by all citizens well into the 21st century.
  • Government Fostered Segregation
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses how municipalities and the federal government responded to the influx of Black families during the Great Migration. Black citizens were denied the leg up that white citizens received, from the G.I. Bill to redlining.
  • Thurgood Marshall and the Key to Black Citizenship
    • Sherrilyn Ifill shares the legacy of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court Justice. Discover how he created a strategy for tearing down racial apartheid through equal access to education, the key to Black citizenship.
  • The Most Monumental Court Case, Perhaps Ever
    • Sherrilyn Ifill and Nikole Hannah-Jones deconstruct the Supreme Court case that may be the most consequential of the last century—Brown v. Board of Education—and the story you haven’t heard about the highest calling of education: democracy.
  • The Fight for Fair Housing
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones lays out the North’s version of racial apartheid: housing segregation. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and urban uprisings in 100 cities, the federal government passes the mostly unenforceable Fair Housing Act.
  • The Government’s “Riot Report”
    • Jelani Cobb digs deeper into the most important government study you’ve never heard of, the Kerner Commission Report. Why do its findings matter? Why were they ignored? And what can we learn from the report now, more than a half-century later?
  • My Life as a Revolutionary
    • Angela Davis reflects on how she came to be an icon of civil rights activism and Black feminism, and the joy she found in supporting the Black Liberation movement and its efforts to amplify power, love, joy, and community for all Black people.
  • Rolling Back the Voting Rights Act
    • Jelani Cobb explores the aftermath of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: While it enfranchised millions of African Americans, a backlash followed. Learn about dog-whistle politics, the Southern Strategy, and other efforts to undermine civil rights.
  • Intersectionality: Where Race Meets Gender
    • Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw explains intersectionality, the term she coined for the intersection of gender, race, and culture. The case study of DeGraffenreid v. General Motors illustrates missed opportunities to equally protect Black women.
  • The Importance of Anita Hill
    • As counsel to Anita Hill at the Clarence Thomas Senate Judiciary Hearings, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw witnessed one of the most significant cultural events of the late 20th century, an example of intersectionality that she deconstructs for you.
  • White Supremacy and Policing
    • Jelani Cobb and Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw explore how urban uprisings almost always stem from failed police interactions. They also cover the origins of qualified immunity, the dangers of driving while Black, and the “Say Her Name” movement.
  • Race, Crime, and Punishment
    • Angela Davis shares how her experience in jail impacted her and examines how America’s criminal justice system is shaped by the forces of white supremacy, from the origins of the death penalty to the prison-industrial complex.
  • Critical Race Theory: The Origin
    • Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw breaks down critical race theory’s origin, from Harvard Law School and the pioneering work of legal scholar Derrick Bell to today. Learn how it offers a lens to identify opportunities for change in law and society.
  • Defining Racism
    • John McWhorter discusses the terms racism, prejudice, and white supremacy, and how their meaning has shifted over time. He also offers his own assessment of the three waves of the anti-racism movement and their influence and legacy.
  • The Myth of Color Blindness
    • Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw explores the myth of colorblindness and debunks the idea that America became a “post-racial” society with the election of its first Black president.
  • Speaking Truth to Black People
    • Cornel West uses the election of the first Black president to examine what he believes is one of the highest embodiments of Black love: Black people speaking critical truths to Black people.
  • Meet Your Instructors
    • Seven Black thought leaders continue to illuminate Black American experiences. As they look toward the future, they offer clear-eyed discussion to challenge how you think about race and racism in America—and where we go from here.
  • Recognize the White Supremacy Inside of You
    • Philosopher and theologian Cornel West explores the concept of white supremacy and 400 years of American history that reinforced it. He also covers how Black people created countervailing forces to affirm their dignity and worth.
  • Tell Our Stories
    • History, law, and culture are stories. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw emphasizes the importance of owning the narrative and telling the story of Black Americans in order to fight racial amnesia.
  • What Is Owed: The Case for Reparations
    • Veteran journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones argues that the time for reparations has finally arrived. Find out why investing in reparations is an investment in America’s future as much as it is a recompensation for the wrongs of the past.
  • When They Try to Dehumanize You
    • Jelani Cobb reflects on a personal story that made him realize that people who seek to dehumanize you cannot do so without your consent. John McWhorter deconstructs the N-word—how it evolved and why he believes we shouldn’t give it power.
  • Why I Send My Child to a Segregated School (And Why You Should, Too)
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones shares her reasoning for sending her own daughter to an all-Black, high-poverty school. She challenges all parents to embrace real equality and live their values when choosing how to educate their children.
  • Why We Need to Memorialize Sites of Racial Violence
    • Sherrilyn Ifill explains why Americans are ill-prepared to have a truly healing conversation about race. She challenges us to commit to creating common ground for that discussion by memorializing the painful truths of the past.
  • Why I Don’t Want Reparations
    • John McWhorter shares why he sees reparations as impractical. From affirmative action to sending checks to Black organizations, reparations have, he notes, existed in some form or another for generations with varying degrees of success.
  • Don't Erase Black Women
    • Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw explains why advocates of anti-racism need to operate using an inclusive, intersectional framework—and why that approach is the only way to fight white supremacy.
  • Be a Love Warrior
    • Cornel West discusses why we cannot ignore or deny Black nihilism. He also highlights esteemed Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell, who believed racism was a permanent feature of the American experience but also dedicated his life to fighting it.
  • Is America a White Supremacist Nation?
    • Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw speaks to how the American system of governance cannot be divorced from its origins in white supremacy. She also calls for a new “constitutional imaginary” to shape a better future.
  • What the 2020 Election Taught Us
    • Sherrilyn Ifill examines lessons learned in the 2020 presidential election and the insurgency that followed it. She considers how they are connected to historical realities in America and why Black people cannot leave power on the table.
  • Using Your Greatness for Service
    • True greatness requires service, sacrifice, and humility. Cornel West encourages young Black Americans to look beyond financial gain and publicity when seeking success.
  • Become an Example of the Thing You’re Fighting For
    • Nikole Hannah-Jones reminds us of what history demonstrates: Black people have never been the problem; they have always been the solution for America.
  • What to Do Now
    • In this multi-instructor lesson, John McWhorter, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and Sherrilyn Ifill share what they believe is the right way forward.
  • Perpetuate Black Love
    • Angela Davis, Cornel West, and Jelani Cobb discuss how to live your commitment to liberation and justice through Black Love. Share your skills and talents, engage in honest self-critique, and remember that you are called to service.

Taught by

Angela Davis, Cornel West, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sherrilyn Ifill, Jelan


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