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Black Performance as Social Protest

Understand artistic protest from the African Diaspora, and how Black performance impacts social justice movements today.

408 enrolled on this course

Black Performance as Social Protest

Explore the history of social protest through Black performance

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.

Engage with artistic protests across key historical frames

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.

Discover the role of performance in the Black Lives Matter movement

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.

Learn from experts in African American studies from the University of Michigan

This course is led by three professors at the school of Music, Theatre, and Dance at the University of Michigan, all of whom teach performance history as well as having lived experiences as Black performers.

They’ll each guide you through the importance and impact of Black performance in social protest, highlighting the intersections between the arts and social justice.

What topics will you cover?

  • Week 1: Black Representation (Slavery) - Covers protest chants of the enslaved and dances of heritage

  • Week 2: Early 20th Century Migrations and United States Protests (Jim Crow) - Explores lynching plays, protest songs and the Great Migration.

  • Week 3: Civil Rights Struggles for Justice (Equality) and Black Nationalism - Explores music and theatre of the Civil Rights movement and Black Revolutionary Arts forms.

  • Week 4: Social Justice Now: Black Lives Matter and the Performing Arts (Police Brutality) - Discusses the importance of performance past contributions to the Black Lives Matter movement.

  • Week 5: Call to Action - The course culminates in a reflective manifesto

Through these specific examples, participants will identify patterns of resistance against slavery, lynching, incarceration, and disenfranchisement while analysing ways in which they contribute to ongoing social justice movements.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe how Black performance resists oppression across several historical frames.
  • Engage with performance content which illustrates various forms of artistic protest from the African Diaspora.
  • Compare patterns of resistance against slavery, lynching, incarceration, and disenfranchisement.
  • Identify ways in which patterns of resistance from the past contribute to ongoing social justice movements.
  • Produce a manifesto for achieving racial equity through performance.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone looking to understand the social, political, and historical contexts of the African American experience.

It will be of special interest to global artists and performers looking to develop a social justice lens for their work, as well as for activists seeking to incorporate the arts into their social justice work.

Who developed the course?

University of Michigan

As the #1 public research university in the United States, U-M has been a leader in research, learning, and teaching for more than 200 years, with 102 Grad programs in the top 10 — U.S. News & World Report (2019).

  • Established

    1817
  • Location

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  • World ranking

    Top 30Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

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