Artwork including ships carrying enslaved Africans

Units February 8, 2022

Atlantic Slave War: Investigating the Origins and History

Lesson Summary: This unit investigates the origins and history of the Atlantic Slave Trade/War. Students will explore methods of control used by owners/enslavers, forms of resistance used by enslaved Africans, and the relationship between Black resistance and white fear. This unit culminates in an analysis of poetry from The 1619 Project book/literary timeline, which serves as a model for students in developing an artistic memorial that honors enslaved Africans. Downloads: Unit resources
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This unit was created by African American History at Mastery Charter Schools, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately three weeks, or 13-to-15 class periods.

Essential Questions

  • What was the social and political impact of the Atlantic Slave War?
  • How did the process of enslavement impact African identity?
  • What methods of control were used by owners/enslavers?
  • What forms of resistance were used by enslaved Africans?

Unit Overview

This unit investigates the origins and history of the Atlantic Slave Trade/War. Students will study the differences between West African slavery and chattel slavery. In detail, they will study the process of European kidnapping of Africans and forcing them into enslavement in the “New World.” Students will study the geography of global slavery and the specific roles/conditions enslaved Africans were forced to experience, as well as how enslaved Africans resisted. Ultimately, students will consider the process of enslavement and the larger social and political impact of slavery. This unit culminates in an analysis of poetry from The 1619 Project book/literary timeline, which serves as a model for students in developing an artistic memorial that honors enslaved Africans.

Objectives

Students will be able to…

  • Describe the conditions of enslaved Africans.
  • Understand and explain the geographic scope of slavery.
  • Explain the relationship between Black resistance and white fear.

Performance Task

Honor Your Ancestors Project

After reading examples of poems that memorialize enslaved Africans and Black freedom fighters, students create their own memorial to reflect on the experiences of enslaved Africans during the Atlantic Slave Trade/War.

Students have the options of writing a poem, creating a poster, constructing an image, etc.

Implementation suggestions:

  • Leave two days at the end of the unit for students to complete their project during class time.
  • Have students present to one another through a gallery walk.
  • Depending on classroom composition, educators may choose to refer to this project as “Memorial Creation.”

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