2022 – Spring

Journalism and Society: Policing While Black

Course Number: JOUR-UA 503, section 2

Day & Time: Thu | 6:20 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 471

Instructor: David Dent

Prerequisites: None

This course will explore the roles of black police officers in the tensions between law enforcement and African Americans. Sixty percent of the nation’s 25 largest police forces are led by African Americans–three of them have black women at the helm. Last September, The New York Times explored “Faces of Power” in America, creating lists of leaders in the corporate and public sectors. Police leadership was the only one of those lists in which the presence of blacks was not embarrassingly low.

In addition, a growing number of blacks in the south are holding the role once held by Bull Connor–sheriff. This course will examine the media coverage of blacks in law enforcement, using North Carolina sheriffs as a model of exploration. In 2018, a record number of blacks were elected sheriff in the state and the four largest counties have African Americans in a position with a heritage tied to slave patrols.

As more African Americans take leadership roles in the world of policing, the problem of police violence against blacks only grows as studies indicate that white supremacists have infiltrated many departments across the country. Black police officers exist at a central and crucial space in considering the nation’s racial conflicts.This course will explore that space of the criminal justice system through readings and extensive interviews with black police officers. Zoom speakers will include black sheriffs in the south as well as officers. Students will write three essays of 1,000 words related to the topic and a final project, which can be an essay or a longform piece of journalism.

Notes: Counts as an elective for the journalism major and both journalism minors.

Questions? Email undergraduate.journalism@nyu.edu.