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.

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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.

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Comments (75)
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  • 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.

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