The history of black people in America is, in many ways, the history of America. This course goes behind the myths and speeches to explore the early history of African Americans and the country they became a part of. It is a basic course for majors and non-majors, intended to provide an introduction to the broad outlines of the story from about 1500 to 1870, with emphasis on cultural, legal, and political elements. By the end of our time together, you should be able to: critically read and analyze different kinds of historical texts; chart the evolving meanings of key concepts such as “race” and “freedom” and why they held such power over American politics; and make cogent, evidence-based arguments about core themes in African American history. Even those who never take another history course will come away with crucial skills for any future work in the humanities.