CMS 4820: The Sound of Black Power

This class focuses on music’s relationships to the African American Freedom Struggle during the period  from the mid 1960s to the present day. It also considers the ways that new media (e.g. sampling and file sharing) are used to remember and reanimate earlier movements.

This 95% online class will be offered during the Fall 2017 semester, and this syllabus is still being revised. Check the syllabus regularly to make sure that you have the most current information.

Links to other sections of this syllabus can be found in the header menu as well as the “General Class Policies” menu. Other important information is linked from the “General Class Policies” menu. Additional course materials are available to enrolled students through GA View.

Course Information

  • CRN: 81132
  • Class meetings: 95% online [On-campus final exam]

Required Texts

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Amazon)
  • Mark Anthony Neal, What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (Amazon)
  • Eithne Quinn, Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap (Amazon)

Required Screenings

In addition, approximately seven hours of video recordings will be completed outside of class. Most  are available through online streaming. In addition, DVD copies of required films will be available on reserve at the library.

  • Eyes on the Prize, selected episodes [E185.615 .E94 1989; on reserve]
  • The Black Power Mixtape (2011) [E185.615 .E94 1989; on reserve]
  • The Songs are Free with Bernice Johnson Reagon (2007) [on reserve]

Required Listening

In addition to recordings by activists like Malcolm X and Fred Hampton, the class will study popular music in multiple genres, with an emphasis on hip hop. Many of these recordings are available on YouTube. Required songs are listed for particular assignments, which are linked from the schedule.

First Steps (complete by TBA)

Virtual orientation will be held via GA View during the first week of class. On or before TBA, log on to the course site in GA View and complete the required quizzes and other assignments. All topics and requirements for this week are listed  on the individual assignment pages that are linked from the Schedule page.

Required Software, Hardware, and Technical Capabilities

In addition to GA View, the following software programs and capabilities are necessary for success in this online course. The Hub offers training resources to help students master these tools.

Web Browser: Firefox or Chrome
In this media-rich class, using one of these browsers is mandatory. The university’s Top 10 Tips for Success in online courses notes that Internet Explorer is not recommended for use with  Desire2Learn.
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader)
Students must be able to read PDF files.
Media Player: VLC or equivalent
Students must be able to play mp3 and mp4 files. Many software tools will enable this, including VLC, which is available for free download.
Microsoft Word word processing
Students must be able to compose and read documents saved in the Microsoft Word “docx” format.
Clayton State email
Students must access their CSU email accounts on a regular basis. They must be able to use these accounts to attach and retrieve attached files.

Operation Study

At Clayton State University, we expect and support high motivation and academic achievement. Look for Operation Study activities and programs this semester that are designed to enhance your academic success such as study sessions, study breaks, workshops, and opportunities to earn Study Bucks (for use in the University Bookstore) and other items.

Contact Information

My contact information including office hours is collected on separate page.


Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations need to register with Disability Services in order to obtain their accommodations. You can contact them at 678-466-5445 or If you are already registered with Disability Services and are seeking accommodations for this course, please make an appointment with me to discuss your specific accommodation needs and give me your accommodations letter.