2004 Spring Quarter


José Gómez
Office: Seminar II - E4104 
Telephone: 867-6872
Office Hours: Tues. 10 - 12 a.m.
Mail Stop (until April 19): COM 301
Mail Stop (after April 19) SEM II -A2117
E-mail: gomezj@evergreen.edu


May 17, 2004 marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, arguably the most important ruling of the Supreme Court in the 20th Century. Declaring racially segregated schools as inherently unequal, the Court signaled a reversal of judicial support for apartheid, deeply rooted in America’s colonial foundation and elevated as national doctrine in the abominable "separate but equal" opinion of 1896.

Brown’s repudiation of Plessy v. Ferguson was seismic. Much more than an historical and constitutional watershed, the 1954 decision was a cultural shift that challenged habits, customs, traditions and way of life, North and South. Just as significantly, it helped to invigorate a century-old civil rights movement and to make progress beyond the schools--in housing, voting, transportation and public accommodations.

By the end of the 20th Century, however, the nation appeared to have second thoughts about Brown. Racist opposition to African American progress and the resurgence of conservatism in all branches of government barricaded the road to desegregation. Justices with leanings closer to Plessy than to the Warren Court largely turned their backs on the spirit of Brown.

In this program, we will study the historical backdrop of Brown, the legal battle leading up to it, and its 50-year aftermath.

Credit will be awarded in African American studies, constitutional law, racism and the law, sociology, critical reasoning and writing (and possibly other areas that reflect project accomplishments).

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
10:00 - 12:00
Sem II - E1105


8:00 - 10:00
Sem II - E1107
10:00 - 12:00
Sem II - E1105
1:00 - 3:00
Sem II - E3107
10:00 - 1:00
Sem II - E3107
3:00 - 5:00
Sem II - E3107


Michael J. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality (Oxford University Press, January 2004), ISBN: 0195129032

Robert J. Cottrol, Raymond T. Diamond, Leland B. Ware, Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution (University Press of Kansas, October 2003), ISBN: 0700612890

Melba Pattillo Beals, Warriors Don't Cry (Washington Square Press; reprint edition, February 1, 1995), ISBN: 0671866397

Peter Irons, Jim Crow's Children: The Broken Promise of the Brown Decision (Penguin USA; reprint edition, January 27, 2004), ISBN: 0142003751

Black Issues in Higher Education (Author), The Unfinished Agenda of Brown v. Board of Education (John Wiley & Sons; (April 16, 2004), ISBN: 0471649260

Derrick A. Bell, Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform (Oxford University Press, April 2004), ISBN: 0195172728

Jack M. Balkin (Editor), What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said: The Nation's Top Legal Experts Rewrite America's Landmark Civil Rights Decision (New York University Press, September 2002), ISBN: 081479890X

Gary Orfield and Chungmei Lee, "Brown At 50: King’s Dream or Plessy’s Nightmare?" (A study conducted by The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, January 17, 2004, available online as a PDF file: http://www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu/research/reseg04/brown50.pdf)


Reading. Critical and conscientious reading is the foundation of this program. Our assigned texts together constitute a rich fund of knowledge and raise significant legal, social, political and historical questions about race, caste and culture in the United States. Of course, Brown v. Board of Education is the focal point of our academic inquiry. All readings are required. Each student is required to have a copy of the books.

Writing. There will be four types of writing in this program: a weekly response paper due before seminar on Mondays (see below for instructions), critical comments and responses in connection with the asynchronous online seminar, case briefs, and various types of writing for the special project(s) regarding Brown v. Board of Education.

1) Weekly response papers: "one word journal." The purpose of these response papers is to help you to reflect and think critically about the reading you will have done for Mondays (with the exception of Week 1, when you will do this for the Friday seminar). This will also help you to prepare for seminar. The response paper should be about two pages in length. Each paper should be based on "one word." This means simply that you reflect on your reading and choose one word that in your mind captures in some significant way everything or some major part of what you have read for that day. Use that word as the title of your paper. Then write about it. Relate your writing to the reading in some substantive way. There are no other rules about this assignment. Your paper must be typed, of course, using regular 12-point Times or Times Roman font and normal margins.

2) Case Briefs. You will be required to maintain a notebook in which you "brief" each major case we read. "Brief" here does not mean a lengthy writing as in a legal brief. To brief a case means to succinctly summarize each of the following, preferably using one or two sentences for each: What are the bare facts that gave rise to the case or controversy? What is the issue (legal question) involved? What was the holding (decision) of the court? What was its rationale? You will receive instruction on how to do a case brief.

3) Critical Comments and Responses for the Online Seminar. On the program's Web Crossing site, accessible through the home page, you will be required to post a substantive comment about the reading for the Friday seminar. There are no restrictions on the content of this "critical comment" except that it must be substantive. Perhaps it is a new insight you garnered from the reading. Maybe it is a critique on some point made by the authors. Or perhaps it is an alternative view from either of those presented. The idea is that you should contribute something substantive to the critical dialogue we want to have about the issues. While quality, rather than number of words, is the goal in these critical comments, they should be about 200 to 250 words in length, on average. You will be required to read your classmates’ critical comments on each set of readings and to post at least two comments in response to something they have stated. There is no average word length for responses, but they, too, should be substantive. In other words, they should not be mere statements of agreement or disagreement. There will be a deadline for posting critical comments and responses. These will be negotiated between students and faculty.

4) Project-Related Writing. There will be various types of writing related to the class project(s). The type and scope of the project(s) will determine when such writing must be turned in. This will be negotiated between students and faculty.

Case Analysis. Using the Socratic method, we will analyze landmark Supreme Court cases that address issues of race, caste and culture: what were the specific legal issues before the court, what was its holding, what was its rationale and how did it change law? One dictionary definition of the "Socratic method": "The method of instruction by questions and answers, as adopted by Socrates in his disputations, leading pupils either to a foreseen conclusion or to contradict themselves." This, instead of lectures, is the standard method of instruction used in law schools. While it is quite effective to help students develop their critical thinking skills, it can be quite intimidating in the hands of unforgiving instructors such as Professor Kingsfield in the 1970’s film and TV series, "The Paper Chase." On the other hand, the Socratic method is decidedly much more interesting than a lecture about the law. Only if you come to class unprepared will you likely feel ineffectual or distressed.

Seminar. In weekly face-to-face and online seminars, students will meet together for discussion and analysis of the readings and other program content and themes. Adequate and enthusiastic seminar preparation and participation will be indispensable to student success in this program. Students will be expected to explore in depth the numerous issues that the readings will raise. Early in the quarter, you will receive specific technical instruction on how to use Web Crossing, the medium we will use to post critical comments and responses for the online seminar.

Film Viewing and In-Class Analysis. A film series will draw on the wealth of primarily historical, legal, political and cultural documentaries related to the program theme and reading (Jim Crow, segregation, the Brown case and the civil rights movement). The films will be valuable in providing detail, supplement historical information, and visual context for the analytic themes presented in the program curriculum.

Special Project(s). Projects will be related to the dramatization of legal history prior to Brown, the legal battles leading up to it, the Supreme Court's deliberations on the case, and the 50-year aftermath. A focal point of the dramatization will be the re-enactment of oral arguments in the United States Supreme Court. The exact scope of the project(s) will be determined by the students.


Week One:
Friday, April 2: M. J. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights, Chapter 1 (The Plessy Era)

Week Two:
Monday, April 5: Klarman, Chapter 2 (The Progressive Era)
Friday, April 9: Klarman, Chapter 3 (The Interwar Period)

Week Three:
Monday, April 12: Klarman, Chapter 4 (World War II Era: Context and Cases)
Friday, April 16: Klarman, Chapter 5 (World War II Era: Consequences)

Week Four:
Monday, April 19: Klarman, Chapter 6 (School Desegregation)
Friday, April 23: Klarman, Chapter 7 (Brown and the Civil Rights Movement) and Conclusion

Week Five:
Monday, April 26: Melba Pattillo Beals, Warriors Don't Cry (entire book)
Friday, April 30: Robert J. Cottrol et al., Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture & the Constitution, Introduction and Chapters 1 - 6, pp. 1-150

Week Six:
Monday, May 3: Cottrol et al., Chapters 7 - 9 and Epilogue, pp. 151-243.
Friday, May 7: Peter Irons, Jim Crow's Children: The Broken Promise of the Brown Decision, Preface (pp. ix-xix) and Chapters 1 - 9 (pp. 1-171).

Week Seven:

Monday, May 10: Irons, Chapters 10 - 16 and Conclusion, pp. 172 - 347.

Friday, May 14: Derrick Bell, Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform, Introduction and Chapters 1 - 9 (pp. 1-93).

Note: From May 10 to May 17, Evergreen and the South Puget Sound community (along with the rest of the nation) will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. On both of Evergreen's Olympia and Tacoma campuses there will be numerous activities (panel discussions, round tables, film festival, receptions, etc.). A calendar of events will be published soon. Students in "Inherently Unequal" will be expected to attend:

Monday, May 10: Peter Irons keynote address, North Thurston High School Auditorium, 7 - 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 11: Post-seminar meet-the-author conference with Peter Irons, exact time TBA, but it will be around noon

Wednesday, May 12: "The Search for Equality: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?" Community Discussion at the North Thurston High School Gymnasium, 7 - 9:00 p.m.

On various days throughout the week and weekend: attend at least two film festival screenings.

During the week-long commemoration, there will also be many opportunities for students to be involved. Help will be needed in many areas.

Week Eight:
Monday, May 17: Bell, Chapters 10 - 15 and Conclusion (pp. 94-201).
Friday, May 21: Gary Orfield and Chungmei Lee, "Brown At 50: King’s Dream or Plessy’s Nightmare?" and Black Issues in Higher Education (Author), The Unfinished Agenda of Brown v. Board of Education

Week Nine:
Monday, May 24: Jack M. Balkin et al., What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said: The Nation's Top Legal Experts Rewrite America's Landmark Civil Rights Decision, Preface and pp. 1-91
Friday, May 28: Balkin, pp. 92-213.

Week Ten:
Tuesday, June 1 - Friday, June 4: No reading assigned. Rehearsals and Project Presentations. Note: Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day, a campus holiday.

Note: The Supreme Court cases you will read are not listed above. These will given to you on a week-to-week basis. If time permits for the instructor to select and edit the relevant cases early in the quarter, they will be listed in the reading above, and a revised Required Reading list will be given to you.