5 free online courses from Ivy League schools to educate yourself on race and America’s long history of injustice

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  • Business Insider found several free online courses on race and white privilege offered by top institutions like Yale University and Stanford University.
  • The courses include “African American History: From Emancipation to the Present” and “The Inner Life and Global Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Protests against racism and police brutality that began at the end of May in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd have reemerged in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man from Kenosha, Wisc.

But racism, racial violence, and white privilege have long plagued the US. To put recent events in context, it’s important for people, especially non-Black allies, to educate themselves. 

Following Black thought leaders on social media and reading books about anti-racism are great places to start educating yourself. However, taking an online course taught by notable professors can give you more in-depth knowledge. You’ll not only read the course’s required texts, but you’ll get writing prompts and quizzes to test your knowledge. 

Business Insider found several free online courses that address race and racism in the US. These classes are taught by professors at Ivy League colleges, and are self-paced.  

SEE ALSO: 18 books on race and white privilege that will show you what’s really happening in America right now

The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877

America

Institution: Yale University 

Duration: 13 weeks 

Time commitment: 2-3 hours per week 

This class looks closely at the causes and consequences of the American Civil War, including the impact of race, slavery, and emancipation as moral, personal, and national problems. Readings assigned and discussed include “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” by former slave Frederick Douglass and “A Short History of Reconstruction” by historian Eric Foner. 

The course is taught by David Blight, who is the director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including “,” and “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.”

African American History: From Emancipation to the Present

Author

Institution: Yale University 

Duration: 13 weeks 

Time commitment: 2-3 hours per week 

In this course, students look at the Black experience in America, from the end of the civil war through the modern civil rights movement. The course focuses on works by thought leaders like Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.

Jonathan Holloway, now president of Rutgers University, was a professor of history, African American studies, and American Studies at Yale University and the Dean of Yale College. He is the author of multiple books including “Confronting the Veil” and “Jim Crow Wisdom.”

 

Negotiating a Changing World: 1920-1950

Columbia University

Institution: Columbia University 

Duration: 10 weeks 

Time commitment: 2-3 hours per week 

This course begins with the passage of the 19th amendment and explores women’s changing role in society during World War II. But importantly, this class examines how racial barriers prevented Black women from advancing in society as much as white women did. 

The course is co-taught by Alice Kessler-Harris, professor of American History Emerita at Columbia University and professor in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is the author of multiple books including “Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States” and “In Pursuit of Equity.” 

American Prophet: The Inner Life and Global Vision of Martin Luther King Jr.

Eric Foner

Institution: Stanford University 

Duration: 11 weeks 

Time commitment: 2-4 hours per week 

This course looks closely at the public and personal life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Students will learn everything from King’s early upbringing to how he inspired a movement.

The class is taught by Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial professor of history and the founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. 

Justice

George Floyd

Institution: Harvard University 

Duration: 11 weeks 

Time commitment: 2-4 hours per week 

In this course, students get an introduction to moral and political philosophy that examines difficult topics ranging from property rights to equality and affirmative action. The principal readings are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls, and are used to debate contemporary topics. 

The class is taught by Michael Sandel, professor of political philosophy at Harvard University. He’s the author of “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets; Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” “The Case against Perfection,” and more.