Freedom Colonies And Beyond - Life After Slavery
Subjects: Texas History and Geography
Grade level: 7th (can be adapted for grades 4-8)
Rationale:Students will learn what Freedom Colonies were and
identify Texas Freedom Colonies on a map. Students will work in cooperative
groups to research positive and negatives aspects of African American life after
slavery within the Freedom Colonies.
Access to Internet; Texas Beyond History exhibit, Life After Slavery: Investigations at an
African-American-Owned Farmstead 1871–1905 (http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ransom/index.html); student computers (iPods, iPads, etc.);
Interactive Whiteboard synched to teacher and student computers, or document camera, overhead projector, etc.); teacher blog;
background information on Reconstruction in Texas (textbook, trade paperback, or
online); colored map pencils
The following materials are included in the lesson:
Lesson Duration: 2 sessions of 45-60 minutes or one block period (depending on
class’s writing ability and familiarity with necessary technology and applications)
NOTE: Prior to beginning activity, teacher will:
Directions for the teacher:
Step 1: Display TBH exhibit, "Life After Slavery: An African American-Owned Farmstead In Central Texas 1871Ė1905" www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ransom/index.html. Discuss content in the Historical Context section of the website, explaining that at the close of the Civil War in 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 freed slaves in Texas, most facing an unsure future. What would be the role of the newly freed exslave population of Texas? Would former masters allow African Americans to live side by side with them in society? While many ex-slaves stayed as paid workers or sharecroppers on the farms where they had served in bondage, nearly a quarter of Texas freedmen found ways to legally acquire land of their own. Between 1870 and 1890, several hundred freedmenís settlements, or Freedom Colonies were founded as African American families joined together in communities to plant roots. Land ownership gave ex-slaves the ability to support themselves and be independent, while Freedom Colonies provided a support community with shared social traditions.
Step 2: Explain that to learn where Freedom Colonies were in Texas, students will locate them on a map of Texas counties and create a map key to explain which counties contained the greatest number of Freedom Colonies. Have students choose a partner to work with.
Step 3: Distribute the List of Texas Counties Containing Freedom Colonies and the Texas Counties Map (one per two students). Display the Freedom Colonies in Texas Map Directions and go over it with students. Leave the map directions displayed during the lesson. Have students choose 5.
Step 4: Ask for a volunteer to share a completed map with the class and display the map. Ask the class the following questions:
Step 1: Point out that yesterday students learned what and where Texas Freedom Colonies were. Explain that today students will work in cooperative groups to learn more about why freed African Americans might have wanted to live in Freedom Colonies.
Step 2: Display the Antioch School photograph. Explain that during slavery it was against the law to teach slaves to read. Ask students why that might have been. Explain that after emancipation, freedmen were allowed to form their own schools, like this one in Antioch Colony. Ask students why they think all the students and teachers in Antioch School were African American.
Step 3: Point out that while African Americans were no longer enslaved after the Civil War and many lived in the relative security of Freedom Colonies, they still had serious problems trying to live peacefully and prosperously in Texas and other southern states. Put students into groups of 3-4. Assign each group a research topic from the following list:
Step 4: Distribute Freedom Colonies and Beyond - Life After Slavery Research Notes, one copy per group. Teacher displays a blank copy of Research Notes and fills it in, using Freedom Colonies as the topic and using Freedom Colonies and Beyond - Life After Slavery Research Notes - Teacher Copy as a guide. Explain that each topicís five research questions (who? what? where? how?) must be answered by each group. Groups begin researching their topics, using their computers and the Internet to gather information and filling in their Research Notes.
Step 5: When research notes are complete, display Positive-Negative Chart. Explain that in the process of integrating African Americans into white society after the Civil War, both positive and negative factors came into play. Call on a representative from each group to read aloud the research notes from their topic. Then ask whether that topic should be included as a positive or negative for Freedom Colony residents. Write the name of each topic in the appropriate section of the Positive-Negative Chart.
Step 6: When all topics are represented on the Positive-Negative Chart ask students if they have a better understanding of why African Americans would have wanted to live in Freedom Colonies.
Have students write a one-page essay about a day in the life of someone living in a Freedom Colony.
Have students view Reconstruction: A Statistical Look At Southern Recovery 1860- 1880 (interactive map) http://civclients.com/nehint/recon/
Student Products for Assessment:
Freedom Colonies in Texas Map and Research Notes
Modifications: For students with specific learning needs or IEPs, have step-by-step instructions for the computer available and allow more time for project completion, if necessary.
The Freedmenís Bureau Online http://www.freedmensbureau.com/texas/index.htm
PBS - Reconstruction: The Second Civil War http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction/
Library of Congress - African American Odyssey http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart5.html
Texas Highways Magazine - Roads to Freedom https://www.texashighways.com/culture-lifestyle/item/1763-roads-to-freedom
PBS - Slavery By Another Name http://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/watch/
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