This course is designed to help students develop historical perspectives and analytical frameworks that will guide them as they study and work in urban communities. Focusing on the collective experience of African Americans in the second half of the twentieth century, we will conduct an interdisciplinary investigation into the processes of community formation and social change impacting contemporary urban life. Course texts therefore include historical studies, urban sociology, social work, autobiography, ethnography, community studies, and film. We will begin with a review of the various meanings and uses of the idea of “community,” moving next to a brief consideration of the historical development of American cities. Then we will explore the processes of African American migration and urbanization, including the exploration of specific urban areas and their dynamics of community formation. Finally, we will examine case studies of community organizing, leading us to consider broad questions concerning our understanding of contemporary urban communities, the challenges they face, and the prospects for engaged social action. Our guiding concern throughout the academic term will be the relationship between universities and their surrounding communities—including the historical expressions, contemporary realities, and future prospects of this relationship. This is the one required course for the Urban Studies minor.