Take Free Online Courses on African-American History from Yale and Stanford: From Emancipation, to the Civil Rights Movement, and Beyond

As every Amer­i­can knows, Feb­ru­ary is Black His­to­ry Month. And as every Amer­i­can also knows — if the events of 2020 haven’t warped their sense of time too bad­ly — is isn’t Feb­ru­ary right now. But thanks to online learn­ing tech­nol­o­gy, we all have the free­dom to study any sub­ject we want, as much as we want, when­ev­er we want, irre­spec­tive of the time of year. Sources of inter­net-based edu­ca­tion have pro­lif­er­at­ed in the 21st cen­tu­ry, but long-respect­ed insti­tu­tions of high­er learn­ing have also got in on the action. Yale Uni­ver­si­ty, for exam­ple, has pro­duced the online course African Amer­i­can His­to­ry: Eman­ci­pa­tion to the Present, whose 25 lec­tures by his­to­ry pro­fes­sor Jonathan Hol­loway you can watch on YouTube, or at Yale’s web site. The first lec­ture appears above.

Orig­i­nal­ly record­ed in the spring of 2010, Hol­loway’s course exam­ines “the African Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence in the Unit­ed States from 1863 to the present,” involv­ing such chap­ters of his­to­ry as “the end of the Civ­il War and the begin­ning of Recon­struc­tion” and “African Amer­i­cans’ urban­iza­tion expe­ri­ences.”

It also includes lec­tures on the “thought and lead­er­ship of Book­er T. Wash­ing­ton, Ida B. Wells-Bar­nett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Mar­cus Gar­vey, Mar­tin Luther King Jr., and Mal­colm X” — all writ­ers and thinkers Open Cul­ture read­ers will have encoun­tered before, but a course like African Amer­i­can His­to­ry: Eman­ci­pa­tion to the Present offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­sid­er their lives and work in clear­er con­text and greater detail.

Black his­to­ry has deep­er roots in some parts of the Unit­ed States than oth­ers. But that does­n’t mean the uni­ver­si­ties of the west have noth­ing to offer in this depart­ment: take, for exam­ple, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty’s African-Amer­i­can His­to­ry: Mod­ern Free­dom Strug­gle, taught by the his­to­ri­an (and edi­tor of MLK’s papers) Clay­borne Car­son. Avail­able to watch on YouTube and iTunes (or right above), its 18 lec­tures deliv­er an intro­duc­tion to “African-Amer­i­can his­to­ry, with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on the polit­i­cal thought and protest move­ments of the peri­od after 1930, focus­ing on select­ed indi­vid­u­als who have shaped and been shaped by mod­ern African-Amer­i­can strug­gles for free­dom and jus­tice.” Tak­en togeth­er, these online cours­es offer you more than enough mate­r­i­al to hold your own Black His­to­ry Month right now.

Note: Clay Car­son­’s course can also be tak­en as a MOOC on edX. Enroll now in Amer­i­can Prophet: The Inner Life and Glob­al Vision of Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. And find the cours­es list­ed above in our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

200 Online Cer­tifi­cate & Micro­cre­den­tial Pro­grams from Lead­ing Uni­ver­si­ties & Com­pa­nies

Online Degrees & Mini Degrees: Explore Mas­ters, Mini Mas­ters, Bach­e­lors & Mini Bach­e­lors from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

Free Online His­to­ry Cours­es

Watch Cor­nel West’s Free Online Course on W.E.B. Du Bois, the Great 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub­lic Intel­lec­tu­al

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

by | Permalink | Comments (75) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (75)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti says:

    Thank you Thank you! I am 74 and did not have the his­to­ry I need­ed. 1 para­graph on slav­ery. Col­lege 4 para­graph plus Black pro­fes­sor who went beyond our books.

    I am a liv­ing His­to­ry Actor and research all of my char­ac­ters. Madame CJ Walk­er, Zora, Ona Judge Staines, Har­ri­et Tub­man.

  • Clifford Makins says:

    I am very inter­est­ed in tak­ing the African Amer­i­can his­to­ry cours­es. What do I need to do as my next step?


  • Clifford Makins says:

    I want to take part in the course work that’s being offered.

    Clif­ford Makins

  • Stella Pinkney Jones says:

    77, excit­ed and ready to enroll

  • Bernice Nixon says:

    As a retired edu­ca­tor. I would like to take these cours­es also. I am am also a pub­lic speak­er.

  • Tammy Reed says:

    I would love to take some cours­es. I haven’t had the oppor­tu­ni­ty in the past. I have a mas­ter degree in psy­chol­o­gy and would like to add more con­tent per­tain­ing to the African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty.

  • Shelia Jones says:

    I would love to reg­is­ter for this course. PLEASE pro­vide me with the nec­ces­sary infor­ma­tion to do so. Thanks in advance!

  • Matthew Barksdale says:

    I would like to take the African Amer­i­can his­to­ry class

  • Sheryl E. Spencer says:

    I would love to take this class. I want to know more about
    my his­to­ry so I can teach my

    How do I get this infor­ma­tion.

  • DJ Cowgill says:

    Where can I find the reg­is­tra­tion infor­ma­tion to enroll in this his­to­ry class.

    Thank You

  • Rita Anderson says:

    I would like to take this African Amer­i­can course. I need this. Thank you

  • Denise Roberts says:

    I am inter­est­ed. Please let me know the start date.

  • ANJU CHHETRI says:

    I would like to enroll for this African Amer­i­can his­to­ry class­es.

  • Ellissia Price says:

    I am inter­est­ed in the cours­es on African Amer­i­can his­to­ry.

  • Valecia Cespedes says:

    Awe­some. Thank you.

  • Jerome Payne says:

    I am ready to start at 69 years old to learn more about my African-American,(and if pos­si­ble caribbean) His­to­ry.
    Thanks for this free oppor­tu­ni­ty, we can learn some­thing new every­day and share/teach others,both young and old.

  • Rose Marie Truell says:

    I want to tske the course

  • MAREE says:

    This might be seen as good inten­tions I’m offend­ed that my his­to­ry is becom­ing a FOTM
    Fla­vor of the month.
    What white Amer­i­cans need are cours­es on the real his­to­ry of white peo­ple in this coun­try.
    Every dispi­ca­ble thing they have done and con­tin­ue to do should be taught. Title:
    From can­ni­bal­ism to lynch­ing 101.

  • MAREE ROGERS says:



  • April Rock says:

    I would like to take these cours­es

  • Pearlena Patters says:

    I would love to take these cours­es and any oth­ers with sim­i­lar sub­ject mat­ter. This is a great way to get the knowl­edge base need­ed to teach my grand­chil­dren about their her­itage beyond the stan­dard facts. Please tell me how to sign up for all of the cours­es.

  • Anita N Long says:

    I am very inter­est­ed in the cours­es. What do I need to do? Thanks in advance.

  • Hampton Campbell says:

    MAke black his­to­ry course online in class manda­to­ry and accred­it­ed start­ing from 1619 year to cur­rent times of black his­to­ry. Then maybe some of this infe­ri­or stuff relat­ed to blacks and stereo­types will be looked at in oth­er ways. Also. Our school sys­tems are set­up to teach 98 per­cent Erou­pean his­to­ry and gov­ern­ment. So if I was white, I would some­what fall for white peo­ple being supe­ri­or to all races.…what a illu­sion if you dont read and trav­el and open up yo oth­er cul­tures.

  • Debra Thomas-Zasadzinski says:

    I have watched the first lec­ture and would like to con­tin­ue the course. Please direct me to instruc­tions on how to do this.
    Debra Thomas-Zasadzin­s­ki

  • Audrey Boyce says:

    I would like to take the course. Please send me the infor­ma­tion for me to do so.

  • Leslie Fiol says:

    Inter­est­ed in expe­ri­enc­ing class­es in African Amer­i­can His­to­ry.
    Please for­ward infor­ma­tion about those class­es.
    Thank you.

  • Arrie Smith says:

    I am inter­est­ed in tak­ing the cours­es that are being offered. What is the pro­ce­dure to get start­ed? When do these cours­es start?

  • Carol says:

    OMG! What a great idea where do I start?

  • Adrienne Henly says:

    Yes how do start

  • Carol Sinoben says:

    Greet­ings- kind­ly pro­vide infor­ma­tion for this course please.
    Thank you for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn!

  • Holly says:

    Would love to„ how can I sign up take the course?

  • Renicho Tierrene’ says:

    I believe they all are avail­able for view on Youtube

  • Jocelyn says:

    I would like to take the class.


    Please pro­vide pro­ce­dure for course reg­is­tra­tion. Thank You.

  • timothy angelle says:

    I would like to take this class.

  • Meritza Webb says:

    Where do I go to reg­is­ter for the course?

  • Meritza Webb says:

    I want in! Where do I go to reg­is­ter for the course?

  • Dinia Pierre says:

    I’m inter­est­ing and I want to know more about the African School. Please let me know, when the class start, so I can reg­is­ter for it.

  • Joy Joseph says:

    Good After­noon, I would be inter­est­ed in this course, how­ev­er is it open for those of us who are based in the UK?

    Many thanks
    Joy Joseph

  • Nidiah Harvey says:

    I am inter­est­ed, where do I go to reg­is­ter.

  • Takishia says:

    I am inter­est­ed,

  • James Praytor says:

    I am Inter­est­ed

  • Mary Rice says:

    I am ready to sign up for your free cours­es.

  • Lucinda Steward says:

    I’m inter­est­ed

  • Dana Ross says:

    I’m inter­est­ed in tak­ing these cours­es. I would wel­come the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn more about my African Amer­i­can cul­ture.

  • Lynnette says:

    I am inter­est­ed in tak­ing these class­es. Please send me more info.

  • Anita says:

    I would love me to apply for these free on line cours­es! About my Black his­to­ry her­itage. Thank you! For the oppor­tu­ni­ty.

  • Anita Edge says:

    How soon can I start?

  • Anita Edge says:


  • Michael Davis says:

    I def­i­nite­ly have an inter­est in this course that is being pro­vid­ed. Please respond favor­ably.

    USAF Ret.

  • Christine Boaz says:

    I would love to take this course. I real­ly feel as if.my gen­er­a­tion as well as the ones before and also after me.i believe it is imper­a­tive to know our his­to­ry.

  • Toni Montgomery says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    I real­ly miss see­ing your face on the North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus.

    Great idea but again you are such a strate­gic thinker. Yes! Teach the His­to­ry for future gen­er­a­tions. The sto­ry needs to be told.

    Thank you.…

  • VENUS THOMAS says:

    Thanks for this oppor­tu­ni­ty, how do I reg­is­ter and when does the pro­gram start?

  • Marilyn Stewart Ph.D says:

    I would like to enroll in the cours­es ASAP!!!

  • Rachel arredondo says:

    where do I reg­is­ter for the class!?

  • Delois Powers says:

    Want to reg­is­ter for this free class. Please let me know how to. Thanks

  • Anna Logan says:

    I am very inter­est­ed in tak­ing these cours­es!
    As most of us were NOT taught the real His­to­ry of African Amer­i­can His­to­ry! Please let me know next steps

  • Tamara says:

    Ready to start.

  • Sierra D says:

    I’m am very excit­ed and would like to par­tic­i­pate in one of your class­es
    And I great­ly appre­ci­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ty

  • Essienne Tsolumba says:

    Very inter­est­ed in apply­ing to take these cours­es. I took a course in African his­to­ry learned a lot but it real­ly left me want­i­ng to learn more!

  • Brenda G. Taylor says:

    I am retired from Win­ston Salem State Uni­ver­si­ty in Win­ston Salem, NC (an HBCU) and believe in learn­ing from the cra­dle to the grave.

  • Kay Moore Jackson says:

    I am 73 years old and I would love to learn more about my his­to­ry .

  • William Rainer says:

    I real­ly want to take African-Amer­i­can his­to­ry class I am inter­est­ed African-Amer­i­can his­to­ry it feels enjoy for me with my free­dom speech

  • Larry Westmoreland says:

    I very very inter­est­ed in the course in Black his­to­ry. Our peo­ple are being destroyed for the lack of knowl­edge, I’m age 67, so much I’ve seen but so lit­tle knowl­edge about our his­to­ry.

  • Chinenye A says:

    Guys, type in on Google: ‘Open Yale course African Amer­i­can His­to­ry From Eman­ci­pa­tion to the Present by Jonathan Hol­loway’.

    Then Down­load all the course pages.

    If you want to read more about Black His­to­ry, type in on Google ‘African Amer­i­can His­to­ry free library’. They have a vari­ety of books that you can edu­cate & read for your own love of under­stand­ing Black cul­ture.

  • Chinenye A says:

    Addi­tion­al­ly, you can find study cours­es on Black His­to­ry on Google such as the ‘Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty African Amer­i­can Stud­ies research guide’.

    Anoth­er inter­est­ing read would be an arti­cle called ‘Nat Turn­er’s skull and my stu­dents’ purse by Daina Ramey Berry’ you can find it on Google.

    Its impor­tant to search for free cours­es about Black His­to­ry, as our cul­ture has been sold/taken advan­tage of for cen­turies. You should nev­er feel ashamed about feel­ing inex­pe­ri­enced in knowl­edge, your aware­ness of your his­to­ry, as its nev­er too late to obtain knowl­edge in any­thing.

    Chi­nenye, age 19

  • Regina Banks says:

    I’m inter­est­ed in tak­ing Black His­to­ry cours­es. I learned very lit­tle in high school. As an adult, it’s kind of embar­rass­ing not know­ing about all of the Black His­to­ry fig­ures and the con­tri­bu­tions they’ve made. I des­per­ate­ly want to be in the know! Please tell me what I need to do to start the process. Thank you in advance!

  • Ruby Shivers says:

    The African his­to­ry course

  • Sharon Hurst says:

    I would like to take this course. How do I reg­is­ter.

  • Paulette Rogers says:

    I would love to enhance my knowl­edge with this his­to­ry course. Please send me reg­is­tra­tion infor­ma­tion. Thank u

  • Joyce Lemieux says:

    I’m inter­est­ed in African Amer­i­can stud­ies. Could you send me the cozy and any thing I need to know.

  • Ro says:


    I am inter­est­ed in the free online cours­es on African Amer­i­can stud­ies. Can I check this includes Recon­struc­tion and the 13th,14th and 15th amend­ments and are any cer­tifi­cates giv­en?

    Many thanks.


  • Kimberly A Wright says:

    I would love to add this sub­ject to my resume. Please pro­vide me with the infor­ma­tion need­ed.

    Thank you!
    Kim­ber­ly A. Wright

  • Leon Fitzroy says:

    How do I sign up for this course.

  • Susan Phillips says:

    I am pig­gy­back­ing on what Mr. Payne said. I, too, am 69 years old, and I don’t know what I should know about my Black Her­itage.

    I am retired, and I can now devote the time nec­es­sary to learn ALL I can about my Black History/Heritage.

    Thank you for the oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.