This unit begins by asking students to consider life in Africa before colonization and the forced enslavement of Africans. Students read Omar ibn Said’s autobiography to understand the Islamic scholar’s experiences before he was captured in West Africa and after he was enslaved in America. Excerpts from Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography provide a detailed glimpse of his childhood in Africa before he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Students examine these two stories and others for evidence of resistance, liberation, connection to culture, and shared humanity as they develop a response to the question: How can we better understand America’s past and present by listening to often omitted and unheard voices from the slave trade? Working in teams, students create a podcast about an unheard story in order to start a conversation about the lasting effects of the Transatlantic slave trade and the importance of Black history in America.
The following unit offers multiple entry points into developing an understanding of media literacy. The unit framework and primary sources can be integrated into classrooms of grades 4-12. Each lesson has student objectives that can be accomplished within 40 minute periods over the course of several weeks. A midpoint writing assessment, whole class capstone debate, and final independentwriting assessment are included. Support materials are integrated into the lessons, and the primary source document pages can be found at the end of the unit guide.