Black Civil Rights/Black Liberation

Instructor Name: 
Carmen Denison, and Guest Faculty: Keela Johnson
Course Description: 

Instructor, Carmen Denison

This six credit course combines applied critical race theory, historical and contemporary Black Liberation narratives, and community-based learning to address pressing social issues affecting Black communities across the state of Oregon. Using critical dialogic pedagogy, the Black Civil Rights/Black Liberation class seeks to create collaborative learning spaces where students and Black-led initiatives can engage in prescient conversations about race and racism. The capstone class contributes to the Black Liberation in Education Teach-in event, as well as the design and implementation of sustained programming redressing anti-Blackness, and supporting Black Liberation as a central tenet of any social justice movement. The course runs in both winter and spring term and is designed to support ongoing community engagement programming.

Course work will include learning about the history of Black liberatory and abolitionist movements in the United States, unpacking the myriad manifestations of anti-Blackness in white institutional culture, engaging Black-led organizations, assessing programming goals and working to expand the programming reach and vision to more closely align with the mission of centering Black experience, wisdom, and epistemology.

Winter Term Course Focus:
● 6 CREDIT FULL WINTER - students will be involved in a group project
developing relationships with and compiling a list of Black-led and BIPoC
Guest Faculty, Keela Johnson
Community organizations. This list will need to be compiled with contact person,
contact information and summary of organization’s work. This list will be utilized
for the Spring term event(s).

Split Credit Course Focus:
● 6 CREDIT SPLIT (3 Winter & 3 Spring) students will be involved in a group
project of planning for the Spring term event.

Spring Term Course Focus:
● 6 CREDIT FULL SPRING - students will be involved in the design, promotion and
coordination of the Spring term event(s).

Past programming supported by Black Civil Rights/Black Liberation Capstone: 

2020-2021: From Resilience to Black Liberation: Uprooting Systemic Inequities

2021-2022: Defining Abolition: Black People Liberate Themselves: 

Primary Community Partner: Campus Compact of Oregon

Campus Compact of Oregon:  Campus Compact of Oregon convenes and supports the work of educational institutions individually and collectively to improve their practice around institutional equity, collaborative learning, and community engagement to respond effectively to a racially diverse and changing Oregon.

Campus Compact of Oregon Equity Statement: As a racial justice and educational equity organization, we owe it to ourselves, our partners, and the communities that we collaborate with to strive for the utmost integrity. With this, we seek to dismantle harmful systems that perpetuate hate, xenophobia, and ignorance while working to center those most impacted by institutional, systemic, and interpersonal oppression: Black Indigenous & People of Color, LGBTQAI2++ people, immigrants and refugees, low-income people, and people with disabilities. ​

Campus Compact of Oregon Black Liberation in Higher Education Programming: The MLK Racial Justice Campus Collaborative designs programming that celebrates the history and narratives of Portland’s Black community during and around Martin Luther King Day -- the only national holiday committed to a Black leader. The work of the Civil Rights Movement is far from over; we support community-based programming that centers ongoing narratives of Black activism, creativity, and liberation. 

Acknowledging that our society’s institutions and systems are inherently white supremacist and anti-Black, how do we hold institutions accountable, and collectively dismantle systems of oppression and inequity? What does institutional accountability mean? Furthermore, how can we seek liberation through Black epistemologies and ways of being?

Our collective hopes to discover through this event key ways that higher education and students seeking a college education can be engaged in the fight for Black liberation.  We hope Black students will discover mentors and friends who can support them as they navigate historically white institutions.  We hope these conversations will spark deeper understanding for everyone involved on what they can do throughout the year to fight white supremacy and work towards Black liberation.


Visit Campus Compact of Oregon's Instagram page

Visit Campus Compact of Oregon's project page 



Community Partners have included:

  • Portland United Against Hate

  • Urban League of Portland

  • Brown Girl Rise

  • Wild Diversity 

  • Africa House/IRCO

  • Imagine Black

  • Unite Oregon

  • June Key Delta 

  • Don't Shoot PDX 

  • Portland NAACP 

  • Albina Mosaic Festival

  • Africa Holistic Health Organization

  • African Youth Association 

  • Mic Crenshaw

  • Bella

  • And more!