Black Lives Matter Syllabus

In January 2015, after another wave of mass protests demanding justice for Mike Brown (and too many others) I offered one of the first college courses on the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I had been thinking about how Black Studies professors were writing on public platforms and publishing newspaper articles to provide context for an old problem. I was also struck by the way students were applying concepts they had learned in Black Studies classrooms as they joined the social movement of our time. 

At the time, there were few academic articles and no books on #BlackLivesMatter. Yet, the intellectual world on social media and other digital platforms were rich with source material. Over the past several years, I have been able to draw from an expanding body of knowledge that grapples with the ideological and historical contexts of police brutality, antiblack racism and state violence. There are still so many phenomenal resources you can access online. 

Below is a snapshot of some materials I have used for my courses on #BlackLivesMatter. To access the full syllabus, create an account with Black Star Rising and receive a download for $free.99! Review course material whenever you have the time.

My primary approach to teaching #BlackLivesMatter is to frame it as an "ideological and political intervention" as Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter Network, has explained. As a political and ideological intervention, committed to eradicating state violence and anti-black racism, #BlackLivesMatter opens pathways to study the history of Black Liberation struggles and to learn critical lessons from the past to ensure a truly liberated future. 

For more information on #BlackLivesMatter workshops for teachers and professionals, contact me at If you choose to adopt the syllabus for your own teaching, please cite a sista and add the appropriate attribution. By all means, use the material!

Much Love & Light!
Dr. TaSha

#BlackLivesMatter in Historical Context

Course Description

[Excerpt] This course explores the emergence of #BlackLivesMatter as a critical development in a long history of Black resistance to anti-Black violence. In the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the murder of Trayvon Martin, consciousness raising on social media and mass protests on a national scale exploded the myth of post-racial fantasies that dominated racial discourse in the United States since the election of president Barak Obama in 2008. Students will engage an ever-growing body of intellectual interventions, both academic and public scholarship, that interrogate the contemporary phase of the Black Liberation Movement—the longstanding fight for human rights, citizenship, and human dignity in the face of anti-Black racism and state violence.

*For full course description, create an account with Black Star Rising and receive a free download.

Some Course Materials


  • Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors
  • Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
  • Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor, How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective and From #BlackLives Matter to Black Liberation
  • Patrisse Cullors, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
  • Mary Frances Berry, Black Resistance / White Law: A History of Constitutional Racism in America
  • Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement
  • Charlene Carruthers, Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements
  • Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century
  • Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson, Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life
  • Imani Perry, Breathe: A Letter to My Sons


  • The Murder of Emmet Till
  • Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker
  • I am Not Your Negro
  • Ferguson: A Report From Occupied Territory
  • 2 Fists Up by Spike Lee
  • Fruitvale Station


  • Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly”
  • Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On?”
  • Nina Simone, “Forever Young, Gifted and Black: Songs of Freedom and Spirit”
  • D’Angelo, “Black Messiah”
  • Max Roach, “We Insist!”
  • Solange Knowles, “A Seat at the Table”
  • Wise Intelligent, “The Blue Klux Klan” (trigger warning: homophobic af)
  • Beyoncé, “Lemonade”-Visual Album


Topics: Conceptual Analysis: Anti-Black Racism and State Violence; The Movement for Black Lives


Topic: From Emmet Till to Trayvon Martin (…Tamir Rice and Mike Brown…)
Topic: Dream Defenders and the Poetics of Black and Brown Power

Supplemental Material

Patricia J. Williams, “The Monsterization of Trayvon Martin,” The Nation, July 31, 2013

Robin D. G. Kelley, “The US vs. Trayvon Martin: How the System Worked,” Counterpunch, July 15, 2013

Tamara Lawson, “A Fresh Cut in an Old Wound – A Critical Analysis of the Trayvon Martin Killing: The Public Outcry, the Prosecutor’s Discretion, and the Stand Your Ground Law,” 23 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 271 (2012)

Xavier Best, “‘Up to No Good’: The Racial Profiling of Trayvon Martin and Abdulrahman Awlaki,” Truth Out, August 11, 2013

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice,” The Atlantic, July 15, 2013: 



 Topic: On Lynching
Topic: Writing for Our Lives: Alternative News

Supplemental Material

Isabel Wilkerson, “Mike Brown’s Shooting and Jim Crow Lynching Have Too Much in Common…

Donovan X. Ramsey, “Police Killings Picked Up Where Lynching Left Off

Democracy Now, “Black Lives Matter Activist Convicted of ‘Federal Lynching’: It’s More Than Ironic, It’s Disgusting” (June 2, 2016)

Lisa Guerrero and David J. Leonard, “Playing Dead: The Trayvoning Meme and the Mocking of Black Death,” New Black Man

To access the full syllabus, create an account with Black Star Rising and receive a free download.