Boston College Course 1980 – 2006

History and Development of Racism

Horace was deeply moved by James Baldwin’s quote from “A Fire Next Time” in which Baldwin writes to his 9-year old nephew: “They [whites] are in effect still trapped in a history which they do not understand…”

After facilitating a week-long workshop at Boston College for students and faculty, Horace was invited to design a course on racism. In 1980, he began teaching, “History and Development of Racism in the USA.” He wrote about this in his autobiography:

Understanding history as the context of our present condition became an extension of the “dis-ease”. A beginning recognition of decades of deferred dreams which threatened to break the wings by which we might fly through and above the storm. The spirits of Baldwin and Hughes pushed me further into the past and beckoned me to a new future.

This work launched Horace into a new career as what he called, “an untrained historian.”

This course had a tremendous impact on the 2197 students Horace taught in this class which ran from 1980 to 2006. It was transformational. It was one of the most popular courses on campus and filled on the first day of course registration. Many of his students indicated that it was the most important and significant course they took in their four years at BC. The sentiments expressed in the following response from one course alumnus are reflective of the experience of many of Horace’s students:

Like most of the courses I took at Boston College, HDR was an invaluable learning experience, taught by a knowledgeable and passionate professor, Horace Seldon. But unlike many of the “core” courses I took at Boston College, I consistently use and reflect on what I learned in the HDR class. As a freshmen English teacher at an extremely diverse Catholic high school in New Jersey, we read many texts that center around the themes of racism, prejudice, and hatred. When engaging my students in discussions, debates, and lectures on the historical context of racism in society, I find myself referring to the notes and lessons I learned in my HDR class at BC. This course had a profound impact on my life, and I’m glad to be able to share the lessons I learned from Professor Seldon with my students.