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In this introduction to Part I of a three-part class, seven Black scholars invite you to learn history not taught in U.S. schools. Examining white supremacy and its antithesis—Black love—this class will challenge how you view race in America.

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Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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[INTERPOSING VOICES] [MUSIC PLAYING] JELANI COBB: In 1863, a Black man by the name of Gordon escaped a Louisiana slave plantation owned and operated by a man named John Lyons. He escaped just a few months after the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. He found his way to Union Army lines. He presented himself as a Black man, about 40 years old. And when they began to inspect him, they removed his shirt and they saw this incredible lattice of scar tissue crisscrossing the entirety of his back as evidence of the whippings that he'd received during the time he'd been enslaved. The first thing that the Union Army did was take photographs of this, and those photographs were disseminated far and wide. For years, abolitionists had published accounts of the ordeal of slavery. Northern newspapers had published investigations that talked about the horrors of enslavement. And each time, those accounts were discredited or dismissed. They were thought to be just hyperbole or exaggeration, and there was a counter-narrative that said slavery was not as bad as people are making it out to be, that the relationships between the enslaved and the slavers are more familial than anything else. And then you have Gordon and his back. When that image goes out, it shows the entire world the brutality of the slave system. He made the horrors of slavery believable to people who might otherwise think that they were unbelievable. In the course of this conversation, you may hear things that you find hard to believe, things that seem to be at odds with the version of American society and American history that you've already known. But like Gordon's back, you should believe them. They are a testament to parts of our history and parts of our society that we've dismissed, that we've been hesitant to believe. But we have to if you want to have an accurate understanding of who we are as a country, where we are in terms of race. - In this specific class, you will learn about how there are two abiding factions in this United States of America. White supremacy is one, and Black love is another. - White supremacy is a narrative of control. It is a story about the superiority of white people and the denigration of non-white people. - Black love is that thing that tells you that all of that's a lie. Black love is the thing that allows you to survive. Black love is the thing that makes you believe in American democracy even when American democracy hasn't believed in us. - There has been this unbroken history of struggle for liberation for hundreds of years, but Black people manage to create beauty and love in the very process of fighting this system. - One of our jobs is to try to make there be as little racism as possible, but a more important job is to see where the racism is and think about ways that we can get past it. - What we're not going to do in this MasterClass is exclude women from the con...

About the Instructor

From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Angela Davis, Cornel West, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sherrilyn Ifill, Jelani Cobb, and John McWhorter

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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