Reconstruction

Reconstruction, the era immediately following the Civil War and emancipation, is full of stories that help us see the possibility of a future defined by racial equity. Though often overlooked in classrooms across the country, Reconstruction was a period where the impossible suddenly became possible. Learn more in the Zinn Education Project national report, “Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction.” The following are lessons, books, and films for teaching outside the textbook about the Reconstruction Era. Find more at the Teach Reconstruction campaign. Also, see a carefully selected list of books on Reconstruction for grades 3+ on Reconstruction.

Reconstructing the South: A Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 17 pages.
This role play engages students in thinking about what freedpeople needed in order to achieve — and sustain — real freedom following the Civil War. It's followed by a chapter from the book Freedom's Unfinished Revolution.
Teaching Activity by Bill Bigelow
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Ellen's Broom (Book) | Zinn Education Project

Ellen’s Broom

Picture book. By Kelly Starling Lyons. 2012. 32 pages.
Story about a young girl during Reconstruction whose parents are finally able to have a legal marriage while honoring a family wedding tradition.
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Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule

Book — Fiction. By Harriette Gillem Robinet. 1998. 144 pages.
Historical fiction featuring 12-year-old Pascal, 8-year-old Nellie, and their older brother Gideon, a Union Army aide, as they claim and farm the land promised to them during Reconstruction.
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A Moment in the Sun

Book — Fiction. By John Sayles. 2011. 955 pages.
Spanning five years and half a dozen countries, Sayles' novel of historical fiction paints a picture of the late 1890s — from the racist coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the bloody dawn of U.S. interventionism in Cuba and the Philippines.
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Jan. 6, 1811: Charles Sumner is Born

Born in Massachusetts on January 6, 1811, Charles Sumner was outspoken against slavery, for full recognition of Haiti, against the U.S.-Mexico War, for true reconstruction with land distribution, against school segregation, and much more.
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Roudanez: History and Legacy

Digital collection. The work of Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez, founder of the first Black daily newspaper in the U.S., the New Orleans Tribune, with articles, excerpts, videos, and a timeline.
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