A Racial Justice Mixtape

A group of people watching a woman sing.

Class Dates

April 04, 2023 to April 25, 2023

Meeting Days

Tuesdays 4pm-6pm


Online Course



Course Instructor(s)

More than a source of entertainment, music has played a central role in Black struggles for racial justice in the United States. From the spirituals created by enslaved Africans in the antebellum South, to hip hop lyrics chanted during protests in the summer of 2020, the history of Black music is also a history of Black protest.  

In this course, we will examine the development of protest music in four different eras of U.S. history. First, we will discuss the ways enslaved Africans used music as a tool of protest in the antebellum South. Second, we will explore how depictions of race, gender, and sexuality in blues music reveal a history of dissent during the “Jim Crow” era. Third, we will analyze how the evolution of rhythm and blues after World War II relates to the growth of the civil rights movement. Finally, we will study the role of rap music in protests against police violence in Black communities since the 1980s. Each segment of the course will use a wide range of archival materials – song lyrics, studio recordings, and film footage – to examine the intersection of race, culture, and politics in Black American society. 

Tyina Steptoe is an associate professor of history at the University of Arizona. Her research and teaching focus on race, gender, and culture in the United States. Her 2015 book, "Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City," examines how migration affected notions of race in Houston, Texas, between the 1920s and 1960s. "Houston Bound" won several awards, including honors from the Urban History Association and the Western History Association. She is currently working on a book that explores the history of gender and sexuality in rhythm and blues music. Professor Steptoe also produces and hosts "Soul Stories," a program that explores the history of R&B music, on 91.3-FM KXCI Tucson community radio.

Read this article for a Q&A with Dr. Tyina Steptoe  https://news.arizona.edu/story/what-makes-black-protest-song-history-sug...

Course Format

Registered community members will meet with Professor Tyina Steptoe for four live online sessions on the following Tuesdays from 4 to 6 PM: April 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th.

Readings and Syllabus

Syllabus will be sent via email along with recommended readings to all registered students. 

Attendance & Participation

This course will be delivered via the University of Arizona Zoom platform. All class sessions will be LIVE ONLINE and will be recorded. Students will receive a Zoom link to join prior to the start of class and recordings will be shared with registered students after each session to facilitate access for those who cannot make the live sessions.



Online registration for this course will open December 7, 2022 at 10 AM. After registration, participants will receive a receipt of registration. Subsequently, participants will receive class instructions 1-2 weeks before the start of the course.


Refunds are available and must be requested before the second class meeting (April 11th). To drop a class, please contact Stephanie Noriega at communitymatters@arizona.edu

A $25 administrative fee for each cancellation will apply.