Teacher Lesson Ideas

Am I Really Free?

This lesson asks students the question, "how free were free blacks before the Civil War?" From 1790 until 1860, free blacks made up about 1.5% of the population, and half of these people lived in slave states. Though many were still subject to racial prejudice despite their status as freedmen, many free African-Americans eventually became affluent. They came to run businesses and even own slaves of their own. This lesson introduces students to the concept of free blacks living in slave states using primary source documents. Students are then asked to use creative writing techniques to understand what it may have been like to be a free person of color living in America before the Civil War.

Gracie White
Hyatt Park Elementary, SC
2005 Midlands Institute

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