Announcement: Free Summer Class on the History of Resistance

Are you interested in the history of resistance in the United States and abroad and what that can teach us today? Do you want to know how the past can inform strategies for the future? Do you want not only to learn about the past but also to apply it to action in your life and communities?

I am announcing the formation of my first  free summer class. I will be leading the historical discussion of where we’ve been and how we got here, and I will be inviting organizer(s) from the field to help lead discussions about how history can inform grassroots organizing today and in the future.

If you are a person who wants to know more, but don't know where to start, consider signing up for the class. If you are a person who wants to do more organizing work in your community but aren't sure how to do that, consider joining us.

Who are you?

My name is Whit. I am a history PhD looking to increase general public knowledge of history and what it can teach us both inside and outside of traditional learning institutions. In part, this class is an experiment to gauge interest, test engagement, and figure out what works and what doesn’t for possible future iterations.

What are the goals for the class?

The ambitious but attainable goals for the class include but are not limited to the following:

  • Build power and confidence among people who feel disenfranchised by the political moment through knowledge-building.

  • Connect people wanting to take responsibility for making the world a better place with each other and to build a community of trust among students and “graduates” that can continue outside the classroom and into the future.

  • Construct a space in which hard but necessary conversations can happen and be taken to heart, in which all participants work towards building an ethos of action for themselves and society as a whole.

  • Displace the moral superiority of “cancel” and “call-out” culture and replace with a more responsible democratic culture that understands each person’s individual complicity and agency, regardless of their skillset and knowledge-set.

When does the course begin and how long will it take?

The course will be nine weeks, starting the week of June 10. It will end with a gathering in Little Rock, AR, on August 10, where students in the course will get the opportunity to meet, build relationships, and have final discussions about the class.

If you would like to come to Little Rock but do not have the resources to come, small gas stipends may be available depending on donations (read more about that below) given by other students and supporters of the endeavor.

What will be covered in the class?

The class will proceed thematically through U.S. history since 1876 with comparative perspectives from around the world.

Historical study will cover Black liberation, indigenous resistance in the United States and around the world, women’s rights movements, labor movements, LGBTQ movements, colonization and decolonization, and the right wing in the twenty-first century. Concepts will include theories of power, types of resistance and protest, co-option, and coercion.

Where will the online part of class be?

Good question! Still figuring out the best online format, which can be rather difficult without having institutional support. I am currently leaning towards Slack, which allows document attachments, chatting, video and phone calls, and other functionality that would be free to students. It is also available on Android, iOS, and desktop native apps and browsers. A final decision will be made in May.

How much will it cost?

The course will be free, though those who are able can donate privately through Paypal @ onedivinemachine(at)gmail.

No one is obligated to pay, and if you cannot pay but want to learn, you are absolutely welcome. If, however, you have the means and feel more motivated by being literally invested, consider making a donation that will help you stay involved.

What will you do with the donations?

The first priority is the class. Most options for conducting the class online have some cost associated on the host-side (a.k.a. for me). Donations can also be used to help students with costs associated with travel for the final class on August 10 and to reserve a room to meet, if needed. Anything leftover will be distributed as compensation first to organizers who assist with teaching and then to myself for the time spent organizing and conducting the class.

When does the course begin and how long will it take?

The course will be nine weeks, starting the week of June 10. It will end on August 10 with a gathering in Little Rock, AR, where students in the course will get the opportunity to meet, build relationships, and have final discussions about the class in person with other students.

If you would like to come to Little Rock but do not have the resources to come, small gas stipends may be available depending on donations given by other students.

What is required of people who sign up for the class?

Each Monday, I will post readings for the class. You have the week to read as much as you can or would like to. The following Friday through Sunday, we will have structured online discussions about the material, led by guest organizers and myself. The class will be most useful if you both read as much as you can and discuss every week.

While you are encouraged to read as much as you can, the people who will be in this class are most likely busy making a living. For that reason, there is no minimum amount of reading. Discussion, however, is required, as without it, the mission of the class would fail.

There are no grades.

What do you mean by “readings”?

“Readings” is a general term for the various “texts” that will be assigned. The term “readings” includes journal articles, news stories, videos, and documentaries.

How do I sign up?

Send all requests to join the class to onedivinemachine(at)gmail. Introduce yourself (who are you? where are you from? what's your background? write a little essay, if you're feeling it!), talk about why you are interested in the class, and what you hope to learn from it.

Because I want to build a trusting, vulnerable classroom where people can dig into some heavy and sometimes traumatic topics, I reserve the right to refuse an application for any reason if I feel that the applicant is not ready for such a space or may seek to disrupt it. Also, I am teaching the free school class throughout summer break, and I reserve the right to keep my sanity.

Enrollment will end on May 31.

How many spots are there?

For this pilot course, there are 15 spots (with possibility for overload, depending on the number and quality of applicants). They will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone who emails after the spots have been filled but by May 31 will be waitlisted. If people drop-out after May 31 but before the course begins on June 10, I will begin to work through the waitlist.

Please reconsider signing up for the course if you cannot make the majority of the discussions. The class’s success will hinge on participation.  

I have more questions! 

Email onedivinemachine(at)gmail.