Free, but Not Free: Civil Liberties in a Time of War

byKeysiah M. Middleton


As an educator of children with special needs, I teach a self-contained class covering the core curriculum. As a result of the 2004 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and Reauthorization, we in the Philadelphia Public Schools strive to meet the state requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress, assuring that our students maintain sufficient academic gains and that special education students are held to same academic standards as general education students. In an effort to bring students to an academic level where they are able to do well both in the classroom and on standardized tests, I utilized teaching strategies that primarily involve explicit instruction and active engagement in classroom activities. I believe that these methods will be the most effective in teaching my special education students the contributions of African-American soldiers in the Civil War, while also exposing them to how these soldiers faced denials of civil rights and liberties during and after the war. I wish to emphasize the African-American soldier's ability to overcome such barriers to make substantial gains in our society despite adversity. This unit is designed to meet the specific needs of these special education students; however, the general education school population can benefit from this also.

This curriculum unit will cover the core curriculum areas of Social Studies, Reading, Speaking and Writing. Students will be required to read literature, view documentaries and films and write short passages and essays regarding the soldier's experience in the Civil War. In fact, a large number of my lessons will involve responding to literature in an effort to improve my student's reading comprehension and writing skills. Students will be required to engage in dialogue and discussion, as speaking will help to further develop their skills. The unit will also cover certain aspects of the Drama and Art curriculum: a variety of lessons will include art presentations of drawings and paintings as well as dramatizations and re-enactments of the Civil War literature we read.

Our culminating assessment of major lessons will involve the creation of a classroom museum. Students will be responsible for researching Civil War information via library resources and the internet to locate historical documents and artifacts for replication. Various pieces will be displayed around the classroom for an exhibit. Throughout this unit we will raise and attempt to answer the following questions- "Why were the African-American soldiers denied basic civil liberties during the Civil War?" "Are civil rights and civil liberties denied during times war strictly to protect the war effort?" "What are some other reasons an individual's civil liberties may be denied during war?"

School Population

I am a Special Educator providing emotional support services to middle school students diagnosed with mild to severe emotional disturbances. My students are primarily African-American males. During the 2004 - 2005 school year, my classroom was comprised of four (4) female students and eight (8) male students. We provide service for approximately eight hundred (800) students from the southwest and west areas of the city of Philadelphia. The majority of my students have also been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Our middle school is a predominantly African-American urban school that services students in grades six (6), seven (7), and eight (8). In compliance with TITLE I guidelines, eighty-nine point nine percent (89.9%) of the school population receives free or reduced-priced lunch. The school is comprised of four (4) academies - Arts & Music, Health & Nutrition, Journalism & Media and Science & Technology. Students are assigned to a particular academy based on academic skill and/or interest. Additional services offered to the students include not only emotional support to students with emotional disturbances but also learning support to those students with learning disabilities. The majority of our students reside within close proximity to the school. However, a small percentage of our students are bussed in from surrounding areas within the city.

It is important to mention the school's population and the general make-up of my special education class because these were significant factors in determining what the unit would be and what the curriculum unit content would entail. I believe the chosen topic would appeal to young African-American males who make up a large portion of the special education population. The African-American male soldier is a figure that they can identify with. The African-American male during the Civil War period was more likely a slave or a poor freedman fighting issues surrounding slavery. The chance to be a soldier in the Civil War was a promising way out. The soldiers tended to be young, poor males seeking to improve their lot in life. Students, especially African-American males, are more likely to develop a personal connection through their own personal experiences. This would pique their interest.


Our country is facing a nation wide crisis in our urban, rural and suburban area public schools. Our children are not only dealing with issues of crime, drugs, violence and poverty that many of us may consider unthinkable, they are dealing with the identity crisis of "Who am I?" This is especially true for the African-American student. Many African-American students are inclined to deny their African ancestry. It is disheartening to hear African-American students say that they are not descendants of Africans, but that they are Americans. While this is partly true, African-American students need to be made to acknowledge the fact that Negroes, blacks or African-Americans are direct descendants of Africa and African peoples, hence the word African in the term. They need to understand that their history, heritage, culture and ethnicity are not something that they need to be ashamed of, but instead something to be proud of and to embrace. They need to be taught that they are descendants of prosperous kings and queens. This can be accomplished through the effective teaching of accurate history. Simultaneously, this would address the issue of self-hatred as well as low self-esteem and self-worth that is so prevalent in predominantly African-American schools across the nation. This, in turn, could possibly trigger higher achievement in the classroom in addition to better scoring on standardized tests. We need to be aware of the fact that a crisis does not affect only certain groups; everyone becomes affected.

This unit deals with the contributions of African-American soldiers during the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. The African-American soldier played a significant role in the Civil War. Our history books have tended to document only a portion of the reality. Historians have outright eliminated some basic facts from American history. While the Northern and Southern regions of the United States were fighting the Civil War primarily for economic and political reasons, the African-American soldier, whether freeman or escaped slave, was fighting for freedom. The dominant view among many people tends to be that Abraham Lincoln freed all the slaves when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Technically, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the states considered to be in open rebellion. However, areas that bordered the Confederate states, such as Kentucky, Maryland, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Missouri and Delaware, were not affected. The "freed" people represented those being held in slave states. Additionally, not very many people are familiar with Juneteenth, a holiday that contradicts this popular emphasis on the Emancipation Proclamation. They are surprised to hear that it took the United States government an additional two years to inform slaves in the state of Texas that slavery had been abolished in the rebel states effective January 1, 1863. As a result, African-Americans, particularly in the state of Texas and throughout the South, celebrate emancipation on June 19th. It was on June 19, 1865 that the news arrived in Galveston that slaves had been emancipated from "chattel bondage."1 Some, but not many, are aware that it was actually the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery nationwide in 1865. Some even go as far as to believe that the Civil War was fought primarily to benefit the African-American slave. Another commonly held misconception is that the African-American soldier, once allowed to enter into combat, was treated fairly in the Civil War, sharing the same rights and civil liberties as his white counterpart. All of these beliefs are far from the truth. I hope to dispel some of the inaccuracies regarding African-Americans and the Civil War through this curriculum unit.

Children learn who they are through the study of history. If history is told selectively or not at all, we fail as teachers to provide them with a major foundation to be successful in life. As teachers, we train the thinking of a large number of the children that we teach. My goal is to teach skills that will build student's reading comprehension. I will teach these skills (reading independently and learning to respond to literature) in the context of the role of the African-American in the Civil War. I will provide students with accurate information regarding the African-American soldier's pivotal role in the Civil War, to show the soldier's struggles that will display coping and social skills along with their achievements that demonstrate their powerful role in the war. I hope to accomplish this not only to provide an accurate account of African-American history in the urban American classroom, but also to provide the student with uplifting information that they may be able to benefit from and apply to their own lives.

As a Special Educator for students who need emotional support, explicit instruction is vital to my student's academic progress. In the state of Pennsylvania, special education students are held to same academic standards as mainstream students. This is required despite the obstacles both students and teachers face in the learning process. Special education students are faced with some severe challenges that most mainstream students do not encounter. Consequently, the special education student requires not only an individually devised education program, but also one that uses a differentiated instructional approach to reach them. This unit speaks to all of these issues.

Historical Background

Under the United States' institution of slavery, African-Americans (free or enslaved) were not considered citizens. "It was the Supreme Court of the United States that declared in 1857 that the slave Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a person, but property." 2 Therefore, they found few protections under the law as civilians or in the military as other Americans did. The irony in this is that African-Americans not only fought in the Civil War, but also made significant gains and valuable contributions to the Civil War cause. Historian James McPherson says: "Without their help, the North could not have won the war as soon as it did, and perhaps it could not have won at all."3 This occurred despite African-Americans initially being denied the right to fight and to serve as official military personnel. Very soon after President Abraham Lincoln issued General War Order No. 1 on January 31, 1863 to take effect on February 22, 1863, African-Americans rushed to offer their services to the Union. In almost every town of any size there were large numbers of Negroes who sought service in the Union army. 4 The course of the Civil War had created a tremendous need and a sense of urgency for soldiers. However, white Americans believed that to fight in the Civil War was explicitly for white Americans only, and that the African-American had no right to fight in that war. Ohio Governor David Todd stated that this is a white man's government and that the white men are able to defend and protect it; and that to enlist a Negro soldier would be to drive every white man out of the service.5 These sentiments regarding African-Americans supporting the Civil War effort were felt not only in the slaveholding South but all through the other parts of the United States. As always during wartime, African-Americans were ready and willing to serve in the military where needed. Ironically, many African-Americans believed that this time, the war was about, and over, them. Unfortunately, that was the only difference, because once more, as in the past, blacks encountered opposition to their service.6

According to the law, American citizens have the right to bear arms and protect the country. African-Americans had been denied this right since before the American Revolution. African-American soldiers have been denied their basic civil liberties in the very wars fought for such freedoms. Since United States law and tradition require citizens to participate in the armed forces, restriction of a group from fulfilling this obligation can and often has provided a rationale for denying such groups their full rights to citizenship. Aware of this reasoning, the Black American, therefore, sought to participate in America's wars in the hope that sacrifices on the battlefield would bring the reward of increased rights for all Black people in civilian life.7 Desperate times always call for desperate measures and African-Americans have been called to battle only when authorities had deemed it absolutely necessary.

Wars affect everyone, set precedents and influence other countries around the world. It may seem surprising that sometimes the very soldiers that have fought wars to assure freedom have had these same rights and liberties denied. We must keep in mind that when the country's founding fathers were creating the framework for the Constitution that incorporated these civil rights and civil liberties, the African-American was not remotely considered for inclusion as an equal. African-Americans were considered property. Later during the Civil War, even northern military officials initially regarded escaped slaves as captured property, as "contrabands of war." It must be understood that African-Americans have been denied civil rights and civil liberties in America since landing in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. Consequently, the hard but undeniable reality is that African-American soldiers have been denied such civil liberties since before the war, during the war and after the war.

Unit TimeLine

I have a ninety-minute block that is devoted to reading, and a forty-five minute block dedicated to both Writing and Social Studies. Based on this type of scheduling, I can commit at least four periods a week of classroom instruction to this curriculum unit over the course of six weeks. I plan to implement three lesson plans and classroom project that include teaching the students about the Civil War, reviewing and assessing historical documents as they relate to the Civil War and the African-American soldier, discussing the African-American soldier's role and contributions to the Civil War and, finally, historical documentation, research and replication. Each lesson will be a stepping stone to the next, leading up to the creation of a classroom museum with their work on exhibit. The following lessons can be used as a supplement of the required social studies curriculum. Lessons will be implemented as indicated:

  • Week 1 - Lesson 1
  • Week 2 - Lesson 2
  • Week 3 - Lesson 3
  • Week 4 - Classroom Project
  • Week 5 - Classroom Project
  • Week 6 - Classroom Project

Lesson Plans

I plan to instruct my students using various types of graphic organizers and engaging hands-on activities to develop reading comprehension skills. This technique helps the student to pay attention to important parts, to organize information into coherent structure, to see the relationships of concepts and elements and to capitalize on visual learning and activate the right brain.8 The students can engage in therapeutic learning. Engaging, hands-on activities involve creative ways in which to teach a lesson to students. They allow the student to become immersed in the lesson because the teacher has introduced and taught the lesson in such a way that the student is actually enjoying the learning process. This method makes the student's learning experience something that is fun. Studies have found that when students are more actively engaged in the lesson rather than sitting passively receiving a lecture, they tend to absorb the material better. Emphasis in teaching is moving away from a model of expert delivery of knowledge from the teacher to the student to a model of facilitated, engaged learning environments, where the students are actively engaged in discovery and authentic tasks and the teacher is more of a coach, giving more individual attention to students as they go about their activities and delivering information as useful to the activities at hand. Consequently, to have the student actively engaged in the learning process is much more beneficial.9 Basically, students learn by engaging in what they are learning.

Lesson I

The objective is to teach the students the African-American soldier's contribution to the Civil War through knowledge of the purpose for fighting in the war and to have a personal connection to the soldier fighting the war, their struggles during the war and the effect they had on the Civil War as a whole.

The strategy used will be to first familiarize the students with the Civil War, including the causes and effects of the war, and the African-American soldier in the Civil War. I will use the K-W-L graphic organizer to build on the students' background knowledge of the Civil War. By implementing the K-W-L graphic organizer, students will activate prior knowledge, brainstorm ideas, outline information, dialogue and draw on the writing process in learning about the Civil War.

The materials needed are K-W-L graphic organizer charts and colored pencils or


(table available in print form)

How well students understand a text often depends on their background knowledge.

The procedure to build on such knowledge will be to have the students brainstorm and

develop this background knowledge by having them complete the first two blocks of the

K-W-L chart (K-W) prior to a lesson. This will help determine what level of knowledge

the student has, introduce the topic and give the student some basis for what they will

learn. The third block is to be completed after a lesson has been implemented.

The procedure to implement this lesson is as follows:

  • The teacher will ask the students what they already know about the Civil War and have them briefly write about it.
  • The teacher will also ask the students what they would like to learn about the Civil War.
  • The teacher will have the students jot their ideas down in the second block of the chart.
  • Once the students have written their thoughts and ideas, segue into dialogue and discussion of what they have written about.

This will take the class directly into Lesson II.

Lesson II

The lesson objective is to have the students become familiar with the achievements and contributions of the African-American soldier during the Civil War through visual images. "Reading is most often associated with printed text; however, text can also include visual or audio, representation, video, film, event or performance and can be read as well"10

The strategy is to give the students the opportunity to see what the African-American soldier, lieutenant, clergyman, musician, spy and nurse for the Union Army looked like. The visual images will serve the purpose of not only allowing the students to a make a personal connection to what it is they see, but also to open an avenue for dialogue and discussion. The students can also compare and contrast today's African-American soldier to the Civil War African-American soldier.

The necessary materials needed include writing paper, pencils and laminated black and white photographs, and a K-W-L graphic organizer of the teacher's choice or the following:

  • Sergeant Major Lewis H. Douglas
  • An African-American sailor aboard a USS New Hampshire
  • Drummer Boy Jackson
  • Sojourner Truth - serving as a Northern nurse and spy for the Union Army
  • Harriet Tubman - serving as a Southern nurse and spy for the Union Army as well as the Conductor of the Underground Railroad
  • Lieutenant Colonel Alexander T. Augusta - a medical doctor and the highest ranking African-American soldier in the Civil War
  • The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry aka the 54th Regiment
  • President Abraham Lincoln
  • Frederick Douglass
  • General War Order No. 143

Implementing this lesson involves:

  • The teacher distributing the photographs around the classrooms for the students to view, examine and analyze. Each student must view each photograph.
  • Have the students write down a few things about a photograph of their choice (if more than one student chooses the same photo, place them into groups).
  • Continue to build on the student's background knowledge through open discussion. Begin to ask the students explicit and detailed questions such as:
1. What was the Civil War?
2. Which President held the office during the Civil War?
3. During what period did the Civil War occur?
4. Why do you believe the Civil War was fought?
5. Who fought in the Civil War?
6. Was the Civil War an internal or external war? (Define internal and external).
7. Who was affected by the Civil War?
8. What was the economic effect of the war for the South? And the North?
9. How do you think African-American slaves and freedman were affected by the war?
10. What was the African-American soldiers' role in the Civil War?
11. How do you think the African-American soldier was treated fairly or poorly? Why?
12. Why do you think that the African-American soldier wanted to fight in the Civil War? Why or why not?
13. Allow the students to pose their own questions since detailed questioning will raise more questions.

This lesson will lead directly into Lesson III.

Lesson III

The objective of this lesson is to have the students read and learn about the life of an African-American soldier during the Civil War to develop reading comprehension skills while simultaneously building a connection to history. Students will read Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment by Clinton Cox. This story details life as an African-American soldier in the 54th Regiment. It details the soldier's fight for equal pay, rations and clothing. This literature can be used as an approach to introducing students to the struggles, accomplishments and contributions of the African-American soldier during the Civil War. Students will learn what it was like to be an African-American soldier in the United States Army during the Civil War.

The strategy used in implementing this lesson will be to apply reading comprehension strategies such as guided reading, questioning, making inferences and drawing conclusions to ensure that the students understand what they have read. Guide the students to:

1. Identify the main character or central characters of the story.
2. Identify where the story takes place (the setting).
3. Identify the details of an event that takes place in the story.
4. Retell the story orally or written.
5. Give an account of the sequence of events that occur in the story.
6. Make inferences and draw conclusions.
7. Thoroughly analyze the story.
8. Summarize the story.
9. Draw a character or event from the story and write a brief description of the picture.
10. Have the students complete the last block (L) of the K-W-L graphic organizer to recap.

The materials needed include the literature, Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment by Clinton Cox, chapter questionnaires, a K-W-L graphic organizer, writing paper and colored pencils and markers.

The students will read under the teacher's direction and guided reading. Use any of the above-mentioned strategies or your own questioning technique to assess the student's knowledge of the text. The teacher will have the students engage in the writing process by completing chapter questionnaires (teacher made assessments). Have the chapter questionnaires available during the reading sessions so that assessments can be made between sentences, paragraphs or chapters to ask detailed questions for text comprehension. Students should be able to identify the main characters, the story setting, the time frame, major events, make an inference about an occurrence, draw a conclusion about an event, a problem in the story, how the problem was resolved. The teacher will have the students complete the last block of the K-W-L graphic organizer to determine what the students have learned about the African-Americans in the Civil War.

(table available in print form)

Lesson IV

The objective is to determine if the students have become proficient in their knowledge of the Civil War, its causes and effects, the African-American soldier, their roles in the Civil War, their struggles and contributions to the Civil War cause. Once the student's have achieved solid background knowledge, have read Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, and have become familiar with the African-American soldier, the class will view the movie "Glory". The movie, "Glory" features actors Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick who tell the story of the 54th Regiment.

The strategy is to use the movie as a video presentation to further develop the students understanding of text. The literature and the movie are similar so the same questions can be asked. The chapter questionnaires from Lesson III can be re-organized and re-used to assess comprehension. The teacher will also have students compare and contrast the two texts utilizing a Venn diagram graphic organizer to assess the understanding of the text.

The necessary materials include the movie glory in DVD or VHS form, a lesson questionnaire, a Venn diagram, colored pencils or markers.

The procedure involves having the students view the movie. After watching the video, dialogue and discuss the movie, guide the students along by asking detailed questions, and allow time for the students to ask questions. Finally, have the students complete a Venn diagram to contrast and compare the book and the movie about the 54th Regiment. Have the students answer these same questions posed to them at the start of the unit: "Why were the African-American soldiers denied basic civil liberties during the Civil War?" "Are civil rights and civil liberties denied during times war strictly to protect the war effort?" "What are some other reasons an individual's civil liberties may be denied during war?"

African-American Soldiers in the Civil War

(chart available in print form)

Civil War Museum Project

The culminating exercise will entail the creation of a classroom museum. The purpose is to have the students display their research, produce and display their work regarding the African-American soldier during the Civil War.

The strategy is to assess their understanding of the Civil War and connection to the African-American soldier through their final product.

The materials include:

  • a computer and access to the internet
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • tape
  • permanent markers, colored pencils, highlighters and crayons
  • writing and copy paper
  • poster boards, card board and tri-fold displays

Students will be responsible for duplicating replicas of artifacts and establishing displays to be viewed by other students in the school. There should be no more than 8 to 10 items to be prepared for display since the students will need ample time to complete quality work.

The teacher will have:

  • the students perform internet research for Civil War photographs, documents, and artifacts involving the African-American soldier.
  • he students brainstorm ideas together to come to a consensus on what they would like to learn about, research and reproduce.
  • The create an outline and research folders to organize their work


The teacher will assess the student's level of knowledge and understanding based on standards set forth in a rubric (teacher made assessment). Students should be given the rubric at the start of the unit. The teacher will explain the requirements and expectations early on so that students will have a clear understanding of what they are being graded or tested on as well as exactly what it is they need to know to receive a particular grade.

(table available in print form)

Suggested Teacher Readings

Alt, William E. and Betty L. Alt. 2002. Black Soldiers, White Wars: Black Warriors

    from Antiquity to the Present. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

This overview explores the use of black people, either through coercion or enticement, in the armed forces of predominantly white societies in times of crisis when the supply of white soldiers was exhausted or when whites refused to fill the ranks of a wartime army.

The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the

    Military Novato, CA: Presidio Press.

The Right to Fight chronicles the African-Americans' struggles to serve in the armed forces of the United States. The book begins with the story of Crispus Attucks, who was killed in the Boston Massacre. The experiences of blacks in the Civil War have been well documented and Astor covers the essential details of those who fought for both North and South.

Franklin, John Hope and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. 1988. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. Sixth Edition. Fortieth Anniversary Edition. New York:

    McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Franklin gives a detailed account of the journey of African Americans from their origins in the civilizations of Africa, through their years of slavery in the New World, to the successful struggle for freedom and its aftermath in the West Indies, Latin America, and the United States.

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. 1984. Army Life in a Black Regiment. New York:

    W.W. Norton & Company.

This book was originally a series of essays written by a Union colonel from New England, in charge of black troops training on the Sea Islands off the coast of the Carolinas. His gives vivid details of the soldiers, their routines of camp life, and the southern landscapes.

Lanning, Lt. Col (Ret.) Michael Lee. 1997. The African-American Soldier: From

    Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell. Secaucus, NJ: A Birch Lane Press Book. Carol

    Publishing Group.

Lanning traces the major contributions of black soldiers and sailors, beginning with the 5,000 who served in the Revolutionary War and carrying the narrative forward to their successors in Desert Storm.

McPherson, James M. 1965. The Negro's Civil War: How American Negroes Felt and

    Acted During the War for the Union. New York: Vintage Books.

This book describes just what the title suggests.

Nalty, Bernard C. 1986. Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the

    Military. New York: The Free Press.

Nalty, a military historian examines the history of race relations in the United States armed forces and details the progress made.

Suggested Middle School Student Readings

Beatty, Patricia. Who Comes with Cannons?

A novel set during the Civil War, told from the perspective of a southern Quaker family. Truth is 12 when her parents' deaths send her to North Carolina to live with her uncle, his wife, and their two sons. Beatty follows the girl as she gains acceptance in her new family and they trust her to help them with their activities on the Underground Railroad.

Clapp, Patricia. The Tamarack Tree: A Story of the Civil War

Rosemary Leigh has come to America from England to join her brother in Vicksburg just before the start of the Civil War. She is thus caught up in the war and its causes as well as deeply involved in the siege of Vicksburg.

Cox, Clinton. Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment.

As does the movie Glory, this book details the history of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, a black regiment that served with valor and distinction in the Civil War. The account begins with the formation of the unit in 1863 and follows it throughout the remainder of the war. Cox documents the difficulties that black soldiers faced: pay unequal to that of whites, severe prejudice, and an unwillingness on the part of many in power to allow them to engage in actual battle.

Fleischman, Paul. Bull Run.

Bull Run, which was the first battle in the Civil War, is a story told from 16 different points view. Women or men, black or white, they were all involved in the great Battle of Bull Run. All of the characters are facing the same problems but describe the events from a different perspective. Each character describes his or her experience during the Great Battle of Bull Run.

Hakim, Joy. A History of US: War, Terrible War.

Hakim attempts to show readers the horrors of slavery and the war that was thought to have ended it.

Hansen, Joyce. Which Way Freedom?

Obi, a young slave in the Civil War period, cherishes dreams of escape. When he confides his plans to Easter, another slave, she insists that he take her with him, as well as five-year-old Jason. Obi and Easter escape, but without Jason. When they are recaptured by Confederate soldiers, a growing rift develops between Obi and Easter, who can not forget their abandonment of Jason. Obi makes plans for another daring escape, but this time he fears Easter will not come with him.

Hansen, Joyce. Out From This Place.

After their daring run for freedom, Obi and Easter were separated in the confusion of the Civil War. But now that the war is over and the slaves are free, Easter sets out to find her old friend and take control of her life, in the powerful sequel to the Coretta Scott King Honor Book WHICH WAY FREEDOM?

Peck, Richard. The River Between Us.

At the start of the Civil War two mysterious young women get off a boat in a small town in southern Illinois, and 15-year-old Tilly Pruitt's mother takes them in. Who are they? Is the darker-complexioned woman the other woman's slave? Tilly's twin brother, Noah, falls in love with one of them—rich, stylish, worldly Delphine, who shows Tilly a world of possibilities beyond her home. When Noah runs away to war, Tilly and Delphine go after him, find him in the horror of an army tent hospital, and bring him back; but their world is changed forever.

Pickney, Andrea Davis. Silent Thunder: A Civil War Story.

Set in 1862 in Virginia, about two siblings, Summer and Roscoe, who are slaves on the Parnell Plantation. Roscoe, age 13, has learned to read while accompanying the master's son to his lessons. He teaches Summer, 11, her first letter by pointing out to her that the scar on her body is really the letter P, the master's brand. The book gives detailed accounts of each character of the story—Thea, the slave who can predict the future, and Mama's anger at what she considers her children's willfulness, Roscoe's dreams of freedom and also anxiety, as well as the grandeur of Dr. Bates' abolitionist speech on New Year's Eve, and Clem's desperation to gain his freedom. The arrogance of the "benevolent" masters and the indignity as well as forbearance and anger of the slaves are present in this story. The story is engaging, and readers will feel as if they are sharing in the trials and tribulations as well as the triumphs of Roscoe and Summer. This historical novel helps students understand this period in history.

Polacco, Patrick. Pink and Say.

It's a story of interracial friendship during the Civil War between two 15-year-old Union soldiers. Say, who is white and poor, tells how he is rescued by Pinkus (Pink), who carries the wounded Say back to the Georgia home where Pink's black family were slaves. In a kind of idyllic interlude, Pink and his mother nurse Say back to health, and Pink teaches his friend to read; but before they can leave, marauders kill Pink's mother and drag the boys to Andersonville prison. Pink is hanged, but Say survives to tell the story and pass it on across generations.

Reeder, Carolyn. Shades of Gray

Orphaned by the Civil War, 12-year-old Ben learns some unexpected truths from his Uncle Jed, a "coward" who refused to fight in the war. The novel captures the hardships that followed the last war fought on U.S. soil.


The following websites can be utilized to obtain Venn Diagrams and K-W-L graphic organizers as well as rubrics and how to make them.

1. To make a Venn Diagram go to:

2. To make a K-W-L chart go to:

3. To make a rubric go to:


1 Berlin, Ira, Joseph P. Reidy and Leslie S. Rowland. Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation 1861 - 1867, Series II, The Black Military Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, page 35.

2 A People's History of the United States, by Zinn, Howard. 2001. Perennial Classics. Page 187.

3 A People's History of the United States, by Zinn, Howard. 2001. Perennial Classics. Page 194.

4 The African American Soldier from Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell by Lanning, Michael Lee. 1997. Carol Publishing Group, page 35.

5 The African American Soldier from Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell by Lanning, Michael Lee. 1997. Carol Publishing Group, page 34.

6 Blacks in Americas Wars: the Shift in Attitudes from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam by Mullen, Robert W. 1973. Monad Press, page 8.

7 Strength for the Fight: A History of Black Americans in the Military by Nalty, Bernard C. 1986. The Free Press, page 31.

8, Graphic Organizers, August 14, 2005.

9 Instruction, Education Leadership Tool Kit, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, July 10, 2005.

10, Reading to Learn Content: Before, During and After Strategies When Reading a text, Grades 3-12, August 14, 2004.

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