Teach Outside the Textbook: Resistance to Enslavement

“Teach Outside the Textbook: Resistance to Enslavement” was an invitational workshop on June 26, 2021 for participants in Project I4 micro-credential cohorts with lessons and resources to teach outside the textbook about resistance to enslavement.

Children often believe that the only form of resistance to slavery was to run away, since most of the picture books they read about slavery are about the Underground Railroad. They are left with the impression that anyone, who really wanted to, could have escaped.

This workshop offered a documents-based lesson and a new acclaimed graphic novel to dispel those myths.

Teaching a Peoples History of Abolition and the Civil War (Book Cover) | Zinn Education ProjectThe session began with participants engaging in a lesson called “Poetry of Defiance” by Adam Sanchez from the book, Teaching a People’s History of Abolition and the Civil War.

This interactive lesson for grades 7+ uses stories that highlight a myriad of forms of resistance and culminates in the writing of a collective poem. It can be downloaded for free at the Zinn Education Project website and includes handouts for remote instruction.

Participants then heard from Dr. Rebecca Hall, author of the acclaimed graphic novel, Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave RevoltsHall was interviewed by D.C. high school teacher and curriculum writer Jessica Rucker.

Here is a recording of the interview.

Participants received a complimentary copy of the book, described below:

Part graphic novel, part memoir, Wake is an imaginative tour-de-force that tells the story of women-led slave revolts and chronicles scholar Rebecca Hall’s efforts to uncover the truth about these women warriors who, until now, have been left out of the historical record.

Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the Middle Passage. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history.

Wake tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall, a historian and granddaughter of enslaved people. The accepted history of slave revolts has always told her that enslaved women took a back seat. But Hall decides to look deeper, and her journey takes her through old court records, slave ship captain’s logs, crumbling correspondence, and even the forensic evidence from the bones of enslaved women from the “negro burying ground” uncovered in Manhattan. She finds women warriors everywhere.

Using in-depth archival research and a measured use of historical imagination, Hall constructs the likely pasts of Adono and Alele, women rebels who fought for freedom during the Middle Passage, as well as the stories of women who led slave revolts in Colonial New York.


This session is part of a series that includes sessions based on the publications.

August 21: Rethinking Ethnic Studies edited By R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, Miguel Zavala, Christine Sleeter, Wayne Au

October 16: Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race by Megan Madison and What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book by Laleña Garcia, illustrated by Caryn Davidson

February 5: The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks – Young Adult Edition by Jeanne Theoharis and Brandy Colbert

These sessions will be on Saturdays August 21, 2021, October 16, 2021, and February 5, 2022 from 2pm ET to 4pm ET.

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