SOCI 395-005: Plessy to Martin: Race and Politics

Posted in Course Offerings, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-07-25 17:13Z by Steven

SOCI 395-005: Plessy to Martin: Race and Politics

George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia
Fall 2013

Rutledge M. Dennis, Professor of Sociology

This course examines the issues, individuals, and groups central to the intersectionality of race, culture, and politics in American life. We will begin with the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson case which solidified and legitimized the nation’s “separate and equal” racial policy until Brown v. Board of Education. A critique of this case allows us to understand the intricate relations between the nation’s racial theories and policies and its public politics and culture. These racial, political, and cultural issues will provide the background from which we analyze the individuals and groups whose actions and positions presented challenges and counter-challenges to America’s image of itself as a free and democratic society. As a consequence, we will examine how racial and cultural politics were driving forces in the public debates and controversies surrounding such cases as the Scottsboro Boys in Alabama, Robert Williams in North Carolina, Emmett Till in Mississippi, Medgar Evers in Mississippi, Martin Luther King in Georgia, Angela Davis in California, O. J. Simpson in California, Rodney King in California, and currently, Trayvon Martin in Florida. The central questions in the cases presented above focus on why, and in what ways, did racial feelings, fears, and animosities surface as they did, how were intragroup and intergroup relations affected by such attitudes and behavior, and what were the short and long-term societal consequences of these attitudes and behavior.

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Rodney King juror: ‘My father was black’

Posted in Articles, Biography, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2012-05-19 17:34Z by Steven

Rodney King juror: ‘My father was black’

Ventura County Star
Camarillo, California

Gretchen Wenner, Staff Reporter

SQUAW VALLEY — Juror No. 8 from the Rodney King beating trial has always heard the 12-member panel described as either all white or as having no blacks.
Now, he wants the public to know that’s not the whole story: His father was a black man.
“Nobody’s ever guessed that I was black,” Henry King Jr. told The Star.
From the get-go, the media made a big thing about the jury having no blacks, said King, a 69-year-old retiree living in Fresno County.

“It made you feel like they didn’t think we could come out with a fair verdict because we were supposed to be an all-white jury,” he said…

…”There are a few things about me that people don’t know,” he initially said, then choked back tears before saying his father was black.
It’s something he didn’t share with other jurors during the trial and doesn’t recall sharing when they occasionally socialized afterward. Nor had he talked about it with a reporter.
“Forty years ago, you really didn’t say that you were part black,” said King. “Now, I’m proud of it.”
When he applied last year to be on the Fresno County Grand Jury, one of the first things he told them was that his father was black.
“They thought I was joking,” he said.
During interviews on the phone and at his home on 5 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills, King shared family photos and thoughts on his background and the trial. Both of his parents have since died.
“I look pretty white,” said King, whose friends call him Hank. “If you looked at me, you wouldn’t know I had black blood in me.”
His eyes are blue; his skin is light.
King variously described himself as part black, as having black blood and occasionally as black or mixed-race.
“I don’t know if you would say mulatto or what,” he said at one point.
In his younger years, he didn’t often think about his racial background…

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