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Black Performance as Social Protest


Black performance and social activism have been a model for protest globally. It has enriched and activated cries for justice in multiple contexts. This course will help you expand your understanding of Black performance as social protest and its active effects on performance and protest today.

The arts are a potent way of responding to issues of injustice. From slavery and lynching to incarceration and disenfranchisement, Black performance has resisted oppression across several historical frames. On this course, you’ll read, watch, and listen to performances that illustrate various forms of artistic protest from the African Diaspora. You’ll cover chants of the enslaved and dances of heritage, before moving on to look at early 20th century migrations and United States protests.

You’ll identify ways in which patterns of resistance from the past contribute to ongoing social justice movements, such as Black Lives Matter. After investigating the history of Black performance as social protest, you’ll produce a reflective manifesto for achieving racial equity through performance.




5 weeks



U-M Credit Eligible