This part of the unit will provide students with an initial understanding as to how the slave trade arose in Africa and America. The students will explore a timeline of slavery from its inception in approximately 1433 up until 1865 when the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed. In teaching this unit, I feel there are certain steps to take in exploring the curriculum with the students. I chose to do some pre-instruction at the start of the unit to introduce the concept of slavery. Obviously, in order to fully understand the books we will be reading, and the period in which they are set, the students need to have prior understanding about the history of slavery in America and also knowledge about Africa and its culture. I feel students need to be familiarized with the African Continent, focusing on the West Coast. The indigenous people to this area were known by their tribal names: Mende, Akan, Zulu and Fula. These tribes had their own languages, laws, and culture.
Therefore, the first lessons to be taught will be about how and why slavery arose in America. The book that provides the most information for this part of the unit is “Lest We Forget” by Velma Maia Thomas. It is a book that the teacher could read aloud to the class and have them begin to develop an understanding as to the issues around slavery. Following the reading, students will have a hands-on activity in the production of maps relevant to the formation of the slave-trade routes.
When the students have learned the background information needed, the teacher can then proceed to read with the class the three books that constitute the bulk of this curriculum unit. These books are individual slave stories that the students can then use for comparison and contrast. The three books we will be reading are:
i) “The Amistad- Slave Revolt and American Abolition” by Karen Zeinert
ii) “Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima” from “Now is Your Time!” by Walter Dean Myers
iii) “The Captive” by Joyce Hansen
Along the way, to supplement the readings, the teacher can introduce the play, “La Amistad”. This play will serve to foster role-playing and enhance the Amistad experience for the students. An additional reading is also included at the end of the unit, “Tell All the Children Our Story - Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America” by Tonya Bolden. It too, can be read aloud to the students and if time allows the teacher can explore parts of the book that go beyond the Civil War and touch on the African American experience in America. In the Bibliography, I have included videos that can be combined with the reading materials in this unit.