Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

By Any Means Necessary: The Life and Times of Malcolm X and James Baldwin

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number IDSEM-UG1863
Section 001
Instructor Frank Roberts
Days R
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



This course considers the overlapping lives and legacies of two figures whose influence on the American Civil Rights movement was profound and far reaching: Malcolm X and James Baldwin. In this seminar we will examine the convergences and confluences of these two men’s political ideologies—and well as the worlds that shaped them. Though the American public rarely imagined them as political bedfellows in their time, a closer inspection of their lives reveals striking biographical similarities: both were born as the sons of Baptist ministers; both went on to become Harlem legends; and both emerged as “prophets” for the 1960s black freedom movement. Given that both of these men are often thought of as “revolutionaries”—we will move through this course searching for answers to questions such as: How was each of these men "revolutionary" and what precisely did each mean by "revolution"? What were their political differences in terms of envisioning race, racial politics, and the perils of American democracy? How were these concerns manifested in the form and force of their public lives, rhetoric, and written work? How are each of these men remembered, and what are the stakes in studying these figures in a "post" Civil Rights world? Our reading material will include  By Any Means Necessary: The Writings and Speeches of Malcolm X  and  The Fire Next Time.  Our course will also include trips to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture as well as the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Center in Harlem.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)