Politics

Missing From The Historical Record: Obama’s Handwritten Notes On Civil Rights Course Material

Has anybody seen this thing?

There’s an intriguing note near the end of the 1994 syllabus for then-Professor Obama’s course “Current Issues in Racism and the Law” at the University of Chicago Law School :

One final note: you’ll see that much of the material has been marked up. I apologize for not giving you cleaner copies — it’s a consequence of not having a teaching assistant. (On the other hand, my wife tells me that she wouldn’t have minded getting the professor’s notations on her reading material when she was in law school.)

“The material” likely would have been a spiral bound course reader full of photocopied excerpts from the Obama’s own books.

Based on the syllabus, these excerpts were taken from some of the most important cases on race relations in U.S. history, as well as commentary from some of the most influential writers. The course traces the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence from the 1802 case of Gobu v. Gobu (in which the Supreme Court decided that, if a man was black, he was legally presumed to be a slave, and if he was white, he was presumed to be free), through Dred Scott, the Civil Rights Cases, Plessy v. Ferguson, to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, and it includes commentary on civil rights from Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, Robert Bork, Malcolm X and many others.

Handwritten notes on these materials from the man who would become the first black President of the United States could be an invaluable resource to journalists and scholars. We’re wondering if anyone has a copy of the course reader that includes these notes.

UPDATE: Jodi Kantor, who reported the New York Times story on Obama’s class, tells us not to get our hopes up:

BuzzFeedBen nycsouthpaw I looked at the president’s notes when I reported this story. nyti.ms/HkZ3YX Sadly, they were minimal.— jodikantor (@jodikantor) April 5, 2012

President Obama’s handwritten edits to this year’s State of the Union Address. (White House/Pete Souza)

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