The signers of the United States Constitution declared freedom of expression the most important right of United States citizens. Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and hundreds of others incited a nation to free millions of enslaved people through their rhetorical activism. Susan B. Anthony and dozens of other women used the only power they had, the power of language, to ensure women their right to vote in this country. And the persuasive eloquence of Martin Luther King, Jr., changed this nation's consciousness. How do people use language to define, reform, and even revolutionize politics and society? That will be our central question as we study texts representing a range of positions from five U.S. civil rights movements: the early woman's rights, antislavery, 1960s civil rights, women's liberation, and gay rights movements. Students will participate in class discussions, write occasional brief responses to readings, and do a project that will include a presentation and a paper.