American Century

American Century

One of the goals of this class is to try and understand how normal people make history. One of the ways “normal” people make history is through social movements. And one of the best ways that we, as historians, can understand those social movements is by looking at the memoirs activists have written about their experiences. For this paper, your assignment is to choose a memoir/oral history from the list provided below and then, using a minimum of two secondary sources (also provided in a list below), write an essay that situates that memoir and the author’s experiences in a larger historical context.

Questions you may want to consider include: What problems was this social movement/organization attempting to address? How did this organization go about attempting to address these problems? Were they successful? What challenges did they face? Memoirs/oral histories are, by nature, limited in scope. Is the author leaving out relevant details or overemphasizing something that s/he maybe shouldn’t be? Why? And, most important of all: how does this individual’s experience give us perspective on or insight into the history of the lager movement of which they were a part?

Note: your task for this paper is not to summarize your chosen book. Rather, your goal is to use a single memoir as a window into a larger social movement and/or moment in American history.


H. Rap Brown, Die Nigger Die!: A Political Autobiography of Jamil Abdullah al-


Stokely Carmichael and Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, Read for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)

Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod, Norman Noon, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, Jean Smith Young, and Dorothy M. Zellner, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC

Peter Jan Honigsberg, Crossing Border Street: A Civil Rights Memoir John Lewis and Michale D’Orso, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the


James Meredith, Three Years in Mississippi

Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi

Pauli Murray, The Autobiography of a Black Activist, Feminist, Lawyer, Priest, and Poet

Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir Malcom X, The Autobiography of Malcom X

Asian-American Experiences/Civil Rights Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart

Seiichi Higashide, Adios to Tears: The Memoirs of a Japanese-Peruvian Internee in U.S. Concentration Camps

Eddie Huang, Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir

Peter Jamero, Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino American

Yuri Kochiyama, Passing It On: A Memoir

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian-American Memoir of Homelands

Susan F. Quimpo, Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years

Bob Santos, Hum Bows, Not Hot Dogs!: Memoirs of a Savvy Asian American Activist

Lac Su, I Love Yous Are for White People: A Memoir

Alex Tizon, Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self American Indian Issues/Activism

Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven
Dennis Banks, Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American

Indian Movement
Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave: A Memoir

Drew Hayden Taylor, Funny You Don’t Look Like One: Observations of a Blue- Eyed Ojibway

Emestine Hayes, Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir
Woody Kipp, Viet Cong at Wounded Knee: The Trial of a Blackfeet Activist

Walter Littlemoon and Jane Ridgway, They Called Me Uncivilized: The Memoir of an Everyday Lakota Man

Wilma Mankiller, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People

Russell Means, Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means

Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings: My Live Is My Sun Dance Women’s Rights/Women’s Movement

Susan Bronmiller, In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution
Phyllis Chesler, Letters to a Young Feminist
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hard Choices: A Memoir
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975 Betty Friedan, Life So Far: A Memoir

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, My Own Words Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band
Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road Abby Wambach, Forward: A Memoir

Latino/a Civil Rights/Chicano Movement/Immigrant Rights and Experiences Tony Castro, Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America
Jose Hilario Cedíllos, Yellow Dog Dreams: A Mexican American Memoir Cesar Chavez, Autobiography of La Causa

Rose Castillo Guilbault, Farmworker’s Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America

Mario T. García and Sal Castro, Blowout!: Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice

Carlos B. Gil, We Became Mexican American: How Our Immigrant Family Survived to Pursue the American Dream

Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir

Jose Orduna, The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement

Jesús Salvador TrevinÌŒo, Eyewitness: A Filmmaker’s Memoir of the Chicano Movement

Frances Esquibel Tywoniak, Mario T. García, Migrant Daughter: Coming of Age as a Mexican American Woman

LGBTQ Issues/Rights
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

Jeanne Córdova, When We Were Outlaws
Rigoberto González, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa

Laura Jane Grace, Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout

Cleve Jones, When We Rise: My Life in the Movement
Ryan Sallans, Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love, and Life Mark Sega, And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality
Gore Vidal, Palimpset: AMemoir
Edmund White, City Boy
Tennesse Williams, Memoirs

War/Antiwar Movements
Billy Ayers, Fugitive Days

James A. Daly and Lee Bergman, Black Prisoner of War: A Conscientious Objector’s Vietnam Memoir

Bernadine Dohrn and Billy Ayers, Sing a Battle Song: The Revolutionary Poetry, Statements, and Communiques of the Weather Underground, 1970-1974

James Harden Daugherty, The Buffalo Saga: A Story from World War II, U.S. Army, 92nd Infantry Division, Known as the Buffalo Soldiers

Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer
Andrew X. Pham, Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the

Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
Mark Rudd, Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen

Hollis Dorion Stabler, No One Ever Asked Me: The World War II Memoirs of an Omaha Indian

Truong Nhu Tang, A Viet Cong Memoir
Studs Terkel, “The Good War:” An Oral History of World War II.

The Conservative Movement

William F. Buckley, Jr., Nearer, My God: A Autobiography of Faith

Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham

Jesse Helms, Here’s Where I Stand: A Memoir

David Horowitz, Radical Son

Donald Rumsfeld, Known and Unknown: A Memoir

Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal

J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Essie Mae Washington-Williams and William Stadiem, Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond

J.C. Watts, Jr., What Color is a Conservative?: My Life and My Polics

George F. Will, One Man’s America Work/Labor Movement/Working-Class Radicalism

Beverly Brown, In Timber Country: Working People’s Stories of Environmental Conflict and Urban Flight

Alice H. Cook, A Lifetime of Labor: The Autobiography of Alice H. Cook Eugene V. Dennett, Agitprop: The Life of an American Working-Class Radical

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