Introduction | Questions and Activities | Lesson Focus | Resources | Program Index
||Teacher's Guide Contents|
The Edward Clay cartoons are indeed documentation of a sort, as well as ridicule. . . . By 1830, there are about 15,000 African Americans in Philadelphia -- about 1,000 who are economically and socially in a position to live a kind of middle class urban life.
- Emma Lapsansky, historian
What do you think it was like to be a free black person in the North at the beginning of the 19th century? How might it be different from being a free white person? Record students' responses in a compare-and-contrast chart.
Why do you think religion and the church were so important in the lives of free and enslaved blacks? What role do you think religion played in the lives of slaveholders and other proponents of slavery?
Read Article I, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution. To whom do you think it refers? What do you think it accomplished?
Revisit the chart created in Question #1 above. Ask students to add new information and make corrections according to what they have learned in the program
In addition to escaping or conducting armed rebellion, in what ways did enslaved blacks resist slavery? In what ways did free blacks struggle for full citizenship? In what ways were their efforts similar or different?
In the program, historian Albert Raboteau says, "It was important [for the citizens of Charleston] to raze the [African] church [after the Vesey Rebellion]. It shows the importance of these black institutions for a sense of black independence and autonomy. It's the same reason that black churches are bombed or burned today. It represents a sense of crucial autonomy for black people . . . which in Charleston had turned dangerous." Why do you think he makes that comparison? Do you agree? Why or why not?
Have students choose one of the Clay cartoons depicted in the program and then discuss the following questions.*
Have students bring in examples from today's media that they feel present stereotypical images of African Americans or other groups. How do such images contribute to modern beliefs about race? How does it affect our definition of who is an American today?
- Why were the cartoons created? Who do you think was expected to buy them?
- What aspect of black life does the cartoon stereotype or ridicule?
- In what ways are the faces and bodies of the people depicted in the cartoon exaggerated? Why do you think the cartoonist depicted them in this way?
- How are captions or dialogue used to reinforce the stereotypes?
- How do you think black people in Philadelphia viewed these cards?
Divide the class into three teams to research the Gabriel, Vesey, and Turner rebellions, considering the following questions:
Using newspapers, speeches, letters, or other documents, have students present their research to the class in one of the following formats: a meeting in which the conspirators discuss their plans, the trial of the conspirators, or a discussion of the rebellion among free northern blacks.
- What made others see Gabriel, Vesey, or Turner as leaders?
- What events and ideas prompted the rebellion?
- Who was involved (e.g., slaves, free blacks, whites)? What alliances had to be formed? What were the risks and dangers for the people involved?
- What were the goals of the rebellion? Was the rebellion successful? Why or why not? What did the rebellion accomplish?
- How did the slaveholding community respond after the rebellion? Why? How did their response affect enslaved and free blacks?
* You may also want to expand this activity to include the stereotypes of the Irish in America, discussed in "Race in Pre-civil War America" by Noel Ignatiev in Social Education (October 1998).
Part 3: Narrative | Resource Bank Contents | Teacher's Guide
Africans in America: Home | Resource Bank Index | Search | Shop
WGBH | PBS Online | ©