"Forward" to the great escape
In this lesson, students will read a primary source document from Documenting the American South and examine a painting by Jacob Lawrence to understand the conditions of the underground railroad before the Civil War. Students will then create a painting and a narrative related to the underground railroad.
A lesson plan for grades 11–12 Visual Arts Education and Social Studies
- read and interpret a primary source document.
- analyzing a painting.
- demonstrate an understanding of slavery and resistance in American history.
- Access to the painting Forward by Jacob Lawrence
- Autobiography of Henry Parker from the Documenting the American South website
- Markers or color pencils
- Poster board or construction paper
- Notebook paper and pencils
- Computer lab or individual student computers
- Computer with internet connected to a multimedia projector (optional)
Students should be familiar with the institution of slavery in the United States. They should also know how the enslaved Africans were able to resist the oppression of slavery.
- Have students access and examine the primary source document Autobiography of Henry Parker on the Documenting the American South website.
- In three or more sentences, have the students answer the following question on their notebook paper: Explain the conditions of the underground railroad based on the experiences of Mr. Parker.
- Next, have students should access and examine the painting Forward by Jacob Lawrence.
- As the students look at the painting, have them write down what they believe to be going on in the painting. They should spend three minutes writing down their thoughts.
- The students should then draw a picture of what they think happened before the painting and draw picture of what they think happened after the painting. (This should be done on either construction paper or poster board).
- After drawing the pictures, have the students write a story similar to the Autobiography of Henry Parker. The story should detail the life of one of the people in the painting and should be at least three paragraphs in length.
Assess the quality and degree to which the students have drawn two pictures similar to the painting Forward. Also assess if they have written a three-paragraph narrative about the life of one of the people in the painting.
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North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
Grade 11–12 — African American History
- Goal 2: The learner will develop an understanding of the justifications and ramifications of slavery between 1619 and 1860.
- Objective 2.02: Discuss and evaluate the various ways Africans in America resisted slavery.