American Tapestry: Interconnectedness Revealed through Historical Fiction

byWaltrina D. Kirkland-Mullins


America! Our nation is a complex mosaic of people across race and ethnicity whose lives are more times than not interwoven. Their interactions and/or contributions to the American framework are worth recognition. By learning about the experiences of diverse racial and ethnic groups within our society, we gain better insight into the American Mosaic. Equally important, we learn to embrace one another as members of the American community, members whose ancestors at some point in time have embraced a common aspiration: to work towards attaining a better life within our American shores.

Literary resources across genre coupled with classroom instructional practices, however, reveal that complex aspects of our history are rarely delved into or acknowledged: rather, the experiences of diverse racial and ethnic groups are often marginalized and/or excluded from courses of study—particularly in the primary grades. Were they explored, students would better embrace how America has come to be the diverse nation that we are today. Introducing these complex past perspectives would reveal that being American goes much deeper than routinely reciting the pledge or singing patriotic songs at the beginning of the school day. Rather it would reveal that somewhere in time our diverse ancestral journeys have taken us on similar paths that render us part of this American tapestry. The words "American," "nation," and "freedom" would then become substantive. How do we effectively bring these concepts to the forefront? How can we help young learners understand that America is a country rich in diversity and relationships that often goes beyond color lines? How do we create an inclusive learning environment where "uncomfortable" subject matter rooted in our country's history can be taught? Do we dare use historical fiction to convey this reality in an effort to develop a true understanding of the American mosaic, particularly at the elementary level? I contend "yes," for knowing this information will help students better embrace the notion of what it means to be American. Thus, the rationale behind my proposed curriculum unit, "American Tapestry: Interconnectedness Revealed through Historical Fiction."

Targeted at students in Grades 3, but modifiable through middle school grades, my curriculum unit takes a glimpse into the past, zeroing in on the lives of common folk from diverse cultures who possess a common vision: to be able to live free and thrive in America, that land of opportunity. The journey begins between the mid-17 th through mid-19 th centuries. Three historical fiction children's book resources will be used to bring the journey to life: Molly Bannaky, which looks at the life of a British-born dairymaid, exiled to America to serve out a 7-year sentence as an indentured servant, her encounter with slavery, and its unexpected aftermath; Coolies, which draws attention to the life of Chinese immigrant laborers during the mid-1800s and the brutal race prejudice they endured while helping to build the Transcontinental Railroad; and its sequel, Brothers, which examines the life of Chinese immigrants and their struggle to co-exist in communities where oftentimes, "their kind" were not always welcomed. An additional historically-grounded children's book resource, From Slaveship to Freedom Road, will be used as a complement to the Molly Bannaky reading. The interactive narrative explicitly places young readers in the shoes of the enslaved African, revealing the heinous journey endured by blacks across the Atlantic to American shores and their subsequent trek to freedom. Through the use of select and additional supplemental readings and on-line resources—coupled with the use of kinesthetic, tactile, and audio visual activities to reach students across learning styles and abilities levels—students will embrace the historical realities behind the stories. Young learners will grasp that societal challenges have been experienced by diverse groups of people, and that their common thread is the quest for social and/or economic freedom. Although the stories in this unit represent but a small sampling of American experiences encountered in the past, they serve as springboard from which to begin.

The unit—formatted herein such that related vocabulary and historical background info precede the week's noted narrative selection and corresponding lesson—will be implemented three times a week, 50-minutes per session, for an estimated eight-week duration. Using an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based approach, young learners will:

- identify the concept of race and ethnicity based on our select readings and family interviews;

- compare and contrast aspects of life from diverse cultures based on our select readings coupled with personal perspectives;

- examine the term "mosaic" using map and directionality skills to chart the trek of diverse people from their original homeland to American shores.

- identify how people across cultures interacted and survived within their new environment despite societal challenges

- target the meaning of freedom based on these interactions

Zeroing in on the above-referenced points, students will ultimately embrace what it means to call ourselves American.

Section 1. Embracing Intangible Concepts – Setting the Tone

Vocabulary words used to define aspects of American society can be abstract; they too can prove challenging for young learners at the primary grade level. Many adults for example confuse the word "emigrant" (a word that implies a process of travel, e.g., one who leaves his or her original homeland to settle in a new country or region) with "immigrant" (one who comes into a new country for permanent residency) or race (people grouped and classified based on similar and/or different biological traits) with ethnicity (people who identify with one another because of a shared, common heritage, language, or religion). How complicated, then, would such wording be for children? The goal here is to help children grasp these concepts in concrete form. To achieve this end, several questions and related activities are strategically posed and examined throughout the unit: when first introducing these questions, record student responses on chart paper, sharing with students that they will take an up-close-and-personal look at these words as the unit progresses. Initially, using a K-W-L approach, ask the children: What is freedom? What is diversity? What is a mosaic?

Regarding the historical fiction narratives to be introduced and examined throughout this study (and keeping in mind the previously noted questions), the following inquiries will additionally be explored: What do the words "nation," "nationality," "ethnic groups" and "race" mean? What is an immigrant? What is an emigrant? Through open discussion and immersion in engaging literature, students will gather and learn background information regarding these concepts. They too will embrace the meaning of indentured servitude, chattel slavery, their similarities and differences, and their impact on newcomers to American shores.

Week 1 – Laying the Foundation

At the start of the school year, during Morning Meeting, I immerse my students in week-long, getting-to-know- you activities. I divvy my students into teams comprised of 3 to 4 members. Each day, I call on members of select teams to come before the class to share a bit about themselves. I use a microphone and tape recorder to record student responses. Students eagerly come forward to share. Generally, they talk about the city, state, and/or country in which they were born; share three things they need to improve in academically and/or behaviorally; and cite three things they hope to accomplish during the school year. The children are also given an opportunity to record their views in written form for later use with our first narrative writing assignment entitled "A Bit About Me!"

By the end of the week, my students will have familiarized themselves with one another as part of our classroom community. Usually, splashes of students share that their parents or maternal and paternal grandparents came to America from another country. Through this interactive discourse, students begin to embrace that our classroom is representative of a diverse community.

Pointing randomly at my students, I pose the question, "Are YOU American? Explain." Again, in small groups, I give my young learners three-to-four minutes in total to take turns sharing their point of view. Each student is afforded the opportunity (but is not obliged) to share. I walk around the classroom from table to table taking in all the discussions. Time expired, I call on students to take a moment to share their view aloud: remarkably, the common response from each child is, "We are Americans because we were born and raised in this country." Some children who initially opt not to speak raise their hands; they share that they were happy that they were not forced to share their view. I comment that having the option not to participate is a type of freedom—having the freedom to choose. Slowly, definitions regarding "diversity," "nationality" and "nation," "ethnic groups," and "race" are realized. Students begin to make tangible, word-to-self connections. I subsequently post these vocabulary words on our word wall. The children will make use of these words whenever the need arises.

Extension Activity: Have students interview family members to determine the birthplace of their parents and their fraternal and maternal grandparents. After acquiring this information, have students share their findings in class. (Many discover that their parents were born in the U.S. Splashes of students learn that their parents or grandparents lived beyond American shores, hailing from diverse nations throughout the world. [This year, five of my students cited parents or grandparents being born in Dominica, India, Paraguay, Jamaica, France, and Ireland.]) Some share that members of their family came to this country in search of job opportunities; others note that family members came as a result of hardships reaped by natural disasters or war in their native land. Some reveal that their parents and/or grandparents went through the naturalization process to become American citizens. Through this exercise, students grab hold to the general idea that to be born in America or to undergo the naturalization process renders one American. From that point, the concepts of ethnicity, diversity, and nationality begin to become more concrete. Via this preliminary introduction, we can launch our journey into understanding what it means to be an integral part of this "Land of the Free."

Week 2 – Digging Deeper

By the second week of school, reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance" first thing in the morning has become part of our daily, school-wide routine. To ensure my students know and understand the rationale behind the wording, I immerse them in learning the pledge along with "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and several other patriotic songs. Before beginning our review and memorization of these works, I ask, "Why do we say the pledge?" Once again, I open the floor for comments, and my students readily share their views, the most prevalent being, "Because someone says it over the loudspeaker and we have to join in!" Chuckling, I subsequently introduce the words to "The Pledge" either on chart paper or via our Smart Board. I underscore key vocabulary words that include pledge, allegiance, united, republic, nation, indivisible, liberty, and justice. We pause at strategic points to define the words. These words are too included on our word wall. Throughout the week, we revisit the passage and songs. By the end of the week, the children generally embrace the reason for our patriotic morning routine.

Week 3 Preliminary – Culminating Intro

Tone set, we are now ready to begin our narrative course of study. Before engaging in that study, introduce the words to an engaging song entitled "Black Man," written by renowned '70s singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder. (A copy of the words can be downloaded on-line, Xeroxed and distributed to each student, or projected onto a screen for shared reading purposes.) Encourage students to listen intently as the words of each stanza are read aloud. The opening stanza highlights that "the first man to die for the colonists' fight for freedom from British rule was a black man (Crispus Attucks); that America first belonged to aboriginal peoples, the red man; that the guide on Columbus' first voyage was a brown man (Pedro Alonzo Niño); and that the yellow man— the Chinese—contributed greatly to the laying of railroad tracks in our country's western frontier." 1 Students jump into the tone and cadence of the rhymed lyrics. My young learners' eyes seem to gleam as the interspersed refrain follows, relaying the remainder of Stevie's powerful lyrics that rhythmically and descriptively convey "we pledge allegiance to our country's flag in the spirit of liberty and justice for all; yet if all who have contributed to our great nation are not granted equal justice or recognition based on the liberty we defend, we will find that injustice and scandalous events of the past will repeat themselves again, that this world—which includes America—was created to be embraced, respected, and acknowledged by all men." 2

The verse continues with highlights of American achievements across cultures, concluding with a chanted list of diverse citizens who made major contributions to our society. After completing the first reading, ask the children two key questions: "Why do you think Stevie Wonder wrote this song? Does the song contain any information with which you are familiar?" Give students opportunities collaborate in small groups to share their views. Record their responses on chart paper. Most students comment that the poem highlights Americans from different cultural backgrounds who have contributed to American society, many of whom they have never heard of.

I ask my children to listen to the words once again; this time, however, I actually play the song. The children move in syncopation with the beat, but zero in more so on the lyrics. At the conclusion of the song, I immediately ask: "What message is Stevie Wonder trying to convey to his listening audience? Is it an important message to embrace? Why or why not?" One by one, the children raise their hand. When called upon, they philosophically share their interpretation. I record their responses on chart paper. In the end, students deduce that diverse groups of Americans have made major contributions to our society, that their contributions and efforts should be valued and recognized. Through this discourse, we have responded to yet another reason behind why we say the pledge and sing our patriotic songs. The children begin to grasp that diverse people help to comprise this great nation called "America." At this point, our young learners are ready to take a more sophisticated look at the concepts of diversity, nationality, and freedom, setting the tone for introducing our first historical fiction reading selection. Share with students that in upcoming weeks, they will explore how Americans from diverse cultural backgrounds can have something in common.

Section 2: And So We Begin

Before presenting any historical fiction narrative, familiarize yourself with key historical information concerning its content. Additionally, be sure to introduce students to new vocabulary, highlighting essential words contained in the text. Present the words on labeled index cards before reading the story. Strategically weave the meaning of the words into the text during the read aloud session; this will help bring the meaning of each word to life. In this regard, the background info and supportive details that follow coincide with each historical fiction narrative noted herein.

Focus Questions

After reading each of the four narrative selections, the following questions should be


(1) Who are the main characters in the story?

(2) From whence did they hail?

(3) Why and how did they happen to come to America?

(4) Throughout the story, what words best describe the personality of the main character(s)? Use info from the text to support your response.

(5) What life challenges, if any, do the main characters have in common? How do those challenges impact their freedom?

(6) What happens at the end of the story?

(7) Do the characters overcome their life challenges and gain a type of freedom? Explain.

Have children work in collaborative groups to brainstorm on, evaluate, and share their responses. Record their feedback on chart paper, calling on individual members to share their viewpoint(s) on behalf of their team.

Week 4 - Lesson 1: Indentured Servitude and Slavery: Historical Fiction Narrative Selection – "Molly Bannaky" by Alice McGill

Word Wall Vocabulary


Historical Background Info: Long before arriving to American shores between the 17 th and 18 th centuries, indentured servitude was a common practice in English tradition. Ideally, this form of employment was a type of labor agreement: indentured servants contracted out their labor services and were subsequently hired by the master. Unfortunately, many poor people who traveled to America to serve in this capacity were unable to pay the cost of transportation to come to the American colonies. The master who arranged to bring them over from their homeland would provide the servant with a small plot of land to work for a select period of time. (Note: Terms of service differed from colony to colony, e.g., in Maryland, laws were created to address specific aspects in regard to indentured servitude. Some terms of service extended beyond seven years.) 3

During colonial times, beginning in the early 1600s, laborers were needed to work the land and/or to serve in menial labor capacities. Many Europeans—primarily from England during the 17 th century and Ireland and Germany during the 18 th century—came to America because they lived under harsh living conditions in their respective homelands. These emigrants traveled across the Atlantic in search of employment, economic freedom, and a better way of life. Many impoverished individuals—among them women and children—were duped into believing they could begin life anew on American soil; they signed off on contracts and became bonded servants. Some individuals served as apprentices in select fields, like blacksmithing or shipbuilding. Some were abducted to serve as menial laborers. Others—i.e., convicts and other indigent groups—were exiled from their homelands and sent to America to carry out conviction sentences. No matter the reason, upon landing on American shores, those individuals became laborers who fell subject to serving a specified sentence as mandated by the English courts and their master. 4

Something in Common

There was a thin line between the status of an indentured servant and a slave. For example, if an individual was baptized or christened while residing within the colony, that individual could not be enslaved under English law. Additionally, the laws of Virginia and many of the other colonies during the early 1600s did not define racial slavery, but rather the status of servants: individuals who served as indentured laborers could be poor white men, children of both genders, and Africans. History reveals that most indentured servants who picked tobacco were white: it also reveals that a few were African: one of the first indentured servants in the Virginia colony was in fact a black man named "Antonio." He was brought to the Virginia colony in 1621 to work on the tobacco plantations. Because he had been christened, he was not labeled a slave. 5

Wealthy Englishmen were in control and oppressively monitored their human property. Nevertheless, some indentured servants were able to purchase their freedom. In time, that held also true for Antonio, who later changed his name to Antonio Johnson. He married a servant named Mary; together, they had four daughters. By 1640, Antonio and his wife had acquired their own modest, 250-acre parcel of land. He hired black and white laborers to work it.

By 1650, Antonio was one of 400 black people of out of 19,000 settlers in the region. In the township in which he lived, at least 20 families were deemed free blacks; 13 out of that 20 owned their own homes. During colonial times, owning property determined ones economic status. Because he had become a landowner, he was able to enjoy the societal privileges experienced by English landowners. That soon changed, for in 1653,

During early colonial period, race relations did not set the tone for social interaction: many blacks and whites serving as indentured servants worked and intermingled with one another, often considering themselves part of the same ilk. By 1640, that tone began to change, for three servants ran away from a Virginia plantation headed for Maryland. Two of those servants—one of Dutch and the other of Scottish ancestry—were tried for breaking their contract, flogged, and forced to serve out additional terms. The third man, an African, was summoned to serve as an indentured servant for the remainder of his natural life. It is recorded that no white indentured servant was ever summoned to serve such a sentence. 6

Narrative Summary: This historical-fiction work takes place in the late 17 th century. It surrounds the life of Molly Walsh, an indentured servant exiled from England and sent to America to serve out a seven year sentence on a tobacco plantation in Maryland. The story is based on limited, factual accounts regarding the main character's life. 7 Sentenced to death for allegedly "stealing a pail of milk from the master," she escaped the possibility of death solely because of a loophole in English law: she was able to read the Bible, unlike many of the impoverished people in her homeland. Shipped to America, Molly worked as a bonded servant in Maryland. She worked the land, serving her seven year sentence in its entirety. At the end of her term, Molly acquired her freedom. She was provided a parcel of land and a few additional necessities to start life anew. Unable tend the land alone, she purchased an enslaved African by the name of "Banna Ka," a man regal in stature. The two shared a common fate: they knew well the denigrating impact of being enslaved. Molly called him Bannaky. She vowed to treat the young man well and to release him from servitude as soon as her land was cleared. It seems their stance in life was a key factor in transforming their relationship, for in time, Molly and Bannaky were wed. This was a remarkable feat during that time period, for interracial marriages in many parts of the country by law were considered criminal acts. Nevertheless, the two were wed in a clandestine manner, allegedly by a traveling minister who hailed from Maryland. Out of this union were born four daughters. Because of their mother's free status, their daughters, under colonial law, were deemed free. Bannaky dies towards the end of the story; the explanation for his death is not provided. It appears that Molly and her daughters continue to live free. In time, her eldest daughter has a son: that grandson grows up to become a notable mathematician, scientist, inventor, and surveyor who assisted in planning the layout of Washington, D.C.—Benjamin Banneker. 8

Key Questions Reviewed

Allow students to come together in small groups to engage in the brainstorming session regarding each of the seven key questions as they relate to. Encourage students to use inference skills, zeroing in on actual and implied information from the text to draw logical conclusions. Students should deduce that:

(1) Molly Walsh, a British-born citizen, and Banna Ka (Bannaky), an African who seemed to be of royal lineage, are the primary characters in this story.

(2) Molly worked as a dairymaid for an unfair boss in a small township in England. Bannaky appears to have been captured by British slavetraders from his homeland somewhere in Africa.

(3) Falsely accused of a crime she did not commit, Molly was exiled to America. Her ability to read helped her avoid execution; nevertheless, she was sentenced to serve seven years on a tobacco plantation in Maryland because of alleged criminal wrong-doing. Bannaky was brought over to America on a slaveship. His owners intended to sell him at a slave auction. Had he been sold as chattel property, Bannaky would have had to work under harsh conditions as an enslaved plantation laborer.

(4) Molly was intelligent because she knew how to read and because of it, avoided execution; brave and perhaps afraid because she traveled to America alone and had no idea what life might be like in that new land; persevering and diligent because although the work was grueling, she labored on the tobacco plantation and carried out her sentence; self-reliant and responsible because after being released from indentured servitude, she was granted a few acres of land, and she took care of it; resourceful because she saw that working the land on her own was difficult, so she sought the assistance of someone to help her work it; fair and compassionate because even though she bought Bannaky; she promised to treat him well and give him his freedom as soon as her land was cleared; and faithful because she stayed with Bannaky up until his death and continued to take care of her land and her family after he died.

Bannaky seemed to be a proud and brave African, for unlike other blacks aboard the slave schooner, he held his head high despite being forced to mount the auction block to be put up for sale to an unknown bidder. He was knowledgeable because after being bought by Molly, he taught her how to irrigate the land by digging ditches to guide streams of water down the furrows and how to till the land. He was also quick and intelligent because despite being unable to speak English, he communicated and negotiated with Molly and with her help learned how to speak English. He was trusting because he could have tried to run away from Molly's farm to escape to freedom, but he opted to stay. He was loving and courageous, as too was Molly, because the two were wed despite colonial rules that deemed interracial marriages a violation under the law.

(5) Both characters did not come to America of their own free will. Although Molly was an indentured servant and Bannaky was an enslaved African, they were both shackled by a form of bondage, brought to America forced to serve as laborers.

(6) Molly and Bannaky worked individually and together to overcome being "bound workers." In time, Molly became a landholder; after she and Bannaky were married, they both shared the responsibility of landownership and continued to work their land. Because Molly was free and had married Bannaky, their children were considered free. In time, their daughters were married, and their grandchildren were also deemed free. The Bannaky's eldest daughter had a son, Benjamin. Grandmother Molly taught him how to read, and the little boy grew to become a renowned figure in American history: Benjamin Banneker—self-taught astronomer, scientist, mathematician, and surveyor who helped lay out for design for the streets of Washington, D.C. (Note: Bannaky dies in the story; the reasoning behind is death is never cited in this narrative [or the archives of history]. Students may deduce that the proud African died of natural causes, or that someone may have killed him because he married a free white woman and had ultimately broken the law. For young learners' to make this connection verifies they are making use of viable inference skills.)

(7) Molly and Bannaky achieved freedom in several ways. After several years' passing, they became property owners. They were free to make a living, working together on their own land. Despite the colonial law, they chose to get married and raise a family. They were free to be able to take care of their family and themselves. Because Molly and Bannaky had gained their freedom, their children were free, and their grandson, Benjamin Banneker, became a renowned figure in American history. Molly Walsh and Bannaky were people from diverse cultures, yet their lives were interwoven. Because of their existence, their descendants became American citizens. The two overcame societal obstacles to gain a sense of freedom in America.

Extension Activity: Have your students pretend they are on board a schooner, en route to America from England during colonial times. Ask them to picture themselves being in the shoes of an indentured servant. Write a descriptive journal insert based on that visualized experience.

Week 5 - Lesson 2: European Chattel Slavery & Indentured Servitude Revisited - Reading Selection: "From Slave Ship to Freedom" by Julius Lester

Word Wall Vocabulary


Historical Background Info: As held true for many cultures throughout the world, slavery too existed in Africa long before the arrival of Europeans to African shores. African slavery, however, differed tremendously from European chattel slavery. Weapons were not generally used to oppress the enslaved. Rather, those in servitude at times met with more compassion based on established laws and the distribution of punishment as defined by specific kingdoms. Servitude was often administered based on traditional customs and practices. Reasoning for enslaving others varied, ranging from retaining social order within the community to individuals being held captive as conquests of war. The enslaved were oftentimes granted opportunities to become members of the conquering community/kingdom and/or to regain their freedom. Some, for example, were permitted to return to their former villages after having repaid a debt. Others became part of the community via marriage. Many in time were welcomed into the conquering community, embraced as extended family. 9

European chattel slavery, however, was more dehumanizing. Blacks were squirreled beneath the hulls of slave vessels. Chained together at the angles and wrist or yoked around the neck, those enslaved had little room for movement. Royal family and village members, griots—storytellers who passed down the history of their people through the oral tradition, musicians, artisans like woodcrafters, goldsmiths, and ironworkers, farmers, cattle raisers, weavers, fishermen, pottery crafters, and more were crammed onto slave schooners destined to serve as laborers on unfamiliar terrain. Irregardless of social status or ability, enslaved blacks were denigrated based on race and were considered the owner's property, used as a source of free labor.

Slavery in America is recorded as having begun in the Virginia colony around 1619. Although this held true, slavery also existed in the northern states in such regions as New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. European slave traders set port from West African shores, accumulated their bounty, traveling across the Atlantic to South America and the Caribbean, to the American south and back to European shores. This route was known as Triangular Trade. The journey between West African shores to the American south was known as the Middle Passage. Misconceptions are often conveyed that blacks were docile and put up little fight concerning their enslavement. Many slaves made numerous efforts to escape the master's rule when the opportunity availed itself.

Ironic Similarities

Indentured servitude and slavery often took on similar attributes. During the 17 th and 18 th centuries, both enslaved Africans and indentured servants were considered personal property. The fate of the indentured servant and the slave in many instances were comparable. Impoverished whites hailing from Ireland, England, and Germany were shipped across the Atlantic under dehumanizing circumstances. Depending upon weather conditions, the journey to America lasted anywhere from eight to twelve weeks. Many indigent souls were purchased and sold like slaves, hoarded aboard huge, but cramped sailing vessels. Some were shackled and/or crammed beneath the hull of the ship. 1 0

An enormous percentage of people—sometimes more than 50%—died before reaching American shores. Many died of starvation and illness; some were cannibalized by others wracked with hunger on board the sailing vessels. Beatings and whippings were not uncommon. Some female servants were raped, yet others had masters who completely controlled their sexual lives, preventing them from marrying or having children because it would interfere with work productivity. Many committed suicide. To say the least, living conditions were deplorable. Concerning the sale of indentured labor, it was not uncommon to find bills posted throughout the English or American colony highlighting the import of healthy servants to American shores. 1 1

Narrative Summary: This children's book is to be used solely as a supplement to help students better understand the dehumanizing institution of chattel slavery. Information contained herein can be used to help better understand the plight of Bannaky in Alice McGill's narrative work.

Lester's work highlights the trans-Atlantic slave trade and life on the southern plantation as interactively told by an "outside" narrator and select main characters contained therein. The voices of the latter are strategically printed in italics. Vivid pictorial images accompany the text that allow for young readers to connect with the written word. Versus reading each page aloud in its entirety, zero in on select pages; strategically highlight italicized text or provide accurate background information using your own wording to coincide with each picture. Subsequently invite students to step into the shoes of enslaved blacks to imagine what it must have felt like to have been stolen from one's homeland, shackled, separated from family, and forced to sail to distant shores never to return home.

Extension Activities: Compare and contrast indentured servitude versus chattel slavery. Create a Venn diagram to identify similarities and differences. Follow up with a role- play activity: have students reenact being captured and stolen from a West African country and shipped to American to serve as a slave. Subsequently have students write a journal insert to vividly convey the dehumanizing journey. (See YNHTI Directory of Volume 2002 – Survival Stories, "Middle Passage: A Journey of Endurance," Section 2 - "The Treacherous Slave Trade" at for background details.)

Week 6 - Lesson 3: Chinese and Irish Emigration and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad: Historical Fiction Narrative Selection – "Coolies" by Yin

Word Wall Vocabulary


Historical Info: Many overlapping events took place during the mid-1800s. President Abraham Lincoln, renowned businessmen and members of the then Republican Party like Theodore Judah, Leland Stanford (the first Republican governor of California), Charles Crocker, and others were playing an influential role in the development of the Transcontinental Railroad. 1 2

During the mid-1800s, thousands of Chinese immigrants fled to America because of the famine that took place in their country during that period. They also fled their homeland because of the Taiping Rebellion, a political-religious revolt between impoverished, famine-stricken laborers and the imperial government that reigned in China at that time. In search of a better life, many Chinese laborers migrated to American shores in search of employment opportunities. Chinese immigration to the western shores of the United States was often voluntary.

A devastating potato famine took place in Ireland between 1845 through 1852. Ireland heavily depended on its potato crop as a source of food. Millions of people died from starvation and disease. Economic and living conditions were harsh in their homeland. Many Irishmen emigrated to other countries in the world, among them the United States. From 1848 to 1859, the Gold Rush was occurring in California. Many Irishmen, Germans, and Englishmen had settled in such areas as Sacramento and San Francisco. In search of great fortune, making a strike, and staking their claim, they established communities in that region. Chinese newcomers also migrated to the region with similar aspirations like those of their white counterparts. The whites, however, looked on the Asians with disdain. 1 3

Between 1862 through 1869, the development and completion of the Transcontinental Railroad took place: The Union Pacific line was built between 1862 and 1865. The Central Pacific was built between 1865 and 1869. The latter was built with the assistance of 3,000 Irish and 10,000 Chinese laborers. Once again, the Chinese met with disparaging treatment. They were paid significantly less wages than whites. The work was grueling and dangerous. Natural disasters such as heavy snowstorms, extensive heat, landslides, and snow avalanches often occurred. Accidents resulting from blasting mountains to create tunnels, and explosion disasters took many lives.

Additionally, many European emigrants who had settled in the area during previous years referred to the Chinese as "pigtails" and "Coolies." Many Chinese were beaten, ridiculed, lynched, and killed. Brutal race prejudice inflicted on Chinese laborers by their Irish counterparts resulted in the loss of many Asian lives. Nevertheless, thousands of Chinese men were hired to work for the Central Pacific Railroad. Upon arriving to the west coast, settling in such communities as Sacramento and San Francisco, California, they met with much race prejudice. When employed, they were given the more grueling, life-threatening positions: they graded (leveled the ground) for the construction of train trestles, blasted and felled huge trees, drilled large holes through granite mountains, and installed and lit explosive substances while driving tunnels. They too were paid much lower wagers than their white counterparts. For the Chinese, life proved challenging. 1 4

Narrative Summary: The story begins in the home of a Chinese grandmother. The woman and her grandson are participating in a special ceremony commemorating the Ching Ming Festival, a day when the Chinese take time to pay homage to their ancestors. The woman shares stories of the past with her grandson, explaining that his great-grandfather, Shek, and her brother, Wong, made significant contributions to American history. She shares that their family's story begins in San Francisco, California, around 1865 when the trans-Atlantic railroad was being constructed. Shek and Little Wong were among those who came to America's shores in search of a better life.

The elder explains that the journey was grueling, often lasting for as long as two months. Many people died of starvation; others died of disease. Despite the harrowing journey, Shek and Little Wong were excited to arrive to America. Hired by the Central Pacific Railroad, they were put straight to work: clad in traditional attire and hairstyles known as "queues," they and their countrymen worked as diggers, track layers, tunnel workers, and more for the Central Pacific Railroad. Although frail in stature, they were adept at their jobs. Their work ethic, dexterity, and enduring spirit proved impressive, but the white laborers who worked alongside them denigrated the Chinese, calling them "Coolies."

Shek, Little Wong, and their fellow countrymen made efforts to ignore the demeaning epithets and continued to labor alongside the Irish. Shek, Little Wong, and the others worked extremely long hours. Although exhausted, they were forced to continue working under unfair employment conditions. They soon discovered that they were being paid less money than their white counterparts. Fed up with the discriminatory practices, the Chinese workers joined forces and refused to work. The non-Asian workers became incensed with their actions and threatened to send all the Chinese laborers back to China. Initially, Shek, Little Wong, and their fellow countrymen stood their ground but soon conceded fearing the possibility of being deported.

The U.S. government was eager to see the railroad completed. Despite the discord between them, the Chinese and white workers went back to work to complete the task. One day, while working during a snowstorm, an avalanche crashed upon the workers! Shek, completely engulfed by the mountain of snow, almost looses his life! Wong panics, for once again, discrimination strikes: white supervisors ignore Wong's plea for help, demanding that fellow Chinese workers remain on their jobs; a few of Wong's countrymen ignore the order and help Wong dig his brother from beneath the icy mound.

Even though race prejudice and unyielding discriminatory practices created obstacles, the two young men manage to stick it out. In time, Shek and Wong make enough money to be able to remain in America and to help their family in China travel across the Atlantic to join them. The story concludes with the grandmother urging her grandson to always honor those who have made sacrifices so that future generations may prosper.

Key Questions Reviewed

(1) Shek and his brother, Little Wong, are the two primary characters in this story.

(2) They emigrated from China.

(3) They came to Sacramento, California in search of job opportunities and a life much better than had been experienced in their homeland.

(4) Shek and Little Wong were courageous, for they had traveled from their Asian homeland to unknown shores; diligent, for they gave their all when working for the railroad; persevering, for despite grueling, exhaustive workdays, the toiled relentlessly laying tracks, building tressels, tunnels, and more; disgruntled because they had learned they were being discriminated against, receiving less money than other non-Chinese laborers; determined because they joined forces with other Chinese laborers to demand "equal pay for equal hours"; frightened and helpless because an avalanche that occurred during a raging snowstorm buried Shek, and Wong panicked because he was unable to find his brother; disheartened because when Wong cried out for help, the white bosses asserted, "Back to work, you Coolie!" and allowed no one to render assistance; relieved because Wong located his brother's foot protruding from beneath the snow, and with the assistance of other Asian workers, he was able to save his brother's life; proud and honorable because even though they were not invited to join the white workers, railroad managers, and townspeople during the big celebration regarding the completion of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, they stood behind the crowd knowing they had played an integral part in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

(5) Shek and Wong were called "Coolies" because they had slanted eyes, wore different clothing, and traditional Chinese hairstyles. They were subjected to discriminatory practices because of their physical differences. They were forced to work for unequal pay, were not given credit the work effort they contributed in helping to build the railroad system, were forced to live in isolated communities, and were overall treated like second-class citizens. Being free to make an honest living for honest wages was obstructed because of these factors.

(6) Shek, Wong, and other Asian laborers spoke out against dual standards and unjust working conditions. The white bosses became disgruntled because the Asian workers stood their ground. The bosses, however, won, threatening to send the Chinese back to their homeland. Despite the unfair tactics, Shek, Wong, and their countrymen continued to assist in building the Central Pacific Railroad. Although given little or no recognition for contributing much to its construction, in the end, Shek and Wong affirm to themselves that "their hands helped build our country's major railroad system."

(7) Shek and Wong overcame life challenges to gain a type of freedom—the freedom to persevere and succeed: despite discriminatory practices, they continued to work for the railroad, made a living, and were able to remain in America. Shek and Wong were able to save enough money to send it to their family members in China; the money was used to have their family join them in America. Although Shek, Wong, and other Asians were mistreated by non-Asian railroad supervisors and workers, they persevered and continued to help build the transcontinental railroad system. They too helped themselves. Their story is passed down from generation to generation. Their descendants pay homage to the ancestor because of overcoming past ordeals. Freedom was reaped in that their descendants celebrate their rich heritage today. They have the freedom to pass their ancestral heritage along to future generations.

Extension Activity: Have students compare and contrast obstacles faced by Shek and Wong and Molly Bannaky and her spouse. Subsequently using background information from each narrative to support their response, have them determine how their obstacles were similar or different.

Week 7 - Lesson 4: Race Relations between Chinese & Irish Emigrants in California: Historical Fiction Narrative Selection – "Brothers" by Yin

Word Wall Vocabulary


Historical Info: Many Chinese newcomers continued to head for California around 1862 and onward; they settled in such areas as Sacramento and San Francisco. They traveled to that portion of the America for the same intent as whites—to make money and ultimately make better lives for themselves. Some Chinese resided in the area before that time, attempting to participate in the Gold Rush. Others worked for the Central Pacific Railroad. Irrespective of their time of arrival, in an effort to reap the American dream, many Chinese emigrants instead met with daunting race prejudice.

Whites—particularly the Irish—who had earlier settled in the region considered the Chinese second class human beings. They and others referred to Asians as "pigtails" and "coolies." (In their native land, the term "coolie" implied one was merely a laborer; on the American western front, the use of the word took on a new, derogatory meaning.) In California, laws were established that sanctioned discriminatory practices against Asians. During the California Gold Rush, the Chinese were not allowed to work on the Mother Lode, i.e., mining gold in productive gold-mining regions. If they participated in tailing, i.e., pulverizing rocks and using water and gravity to extracts valuable minerals found within, they were subject to a having to pay a miner's tax, permission's tax, and a water use tax. The Chinese were not permitted to attend public school. They were not allowed to vote or testify in court. They were denied citizenship. Despite being disenfranchised, they were forced hospital, school, and property taxes.

While working for the Central Pacific Railroad Corporation, the Chinese were subjected to dual standards in employment practices. They were often assigned the more grueling, life-threatening positions. They too were paid lower wagers than their white counterparts. Many Chinese were ridiculed and mercilessly beaten. Brutal race prejudice inflicted on Chinese laborers by whites resulted in the loss of many Asian lives.

After the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, many Chinese emigrants remained in such cities as Sacramento and San Francisco. Some took on jobs as menial laborers, working for cheap wages as servants, cooks, laundry workers, and more. Some established small stores that catered to Asian culture. Still confronted by racial practices by their white counterparts, many safeguarded themselves in segregated communities referred to as "China Town." There, they were free to embrace their traditions, customs, and rich heritage. 1 5

Narrative Summary: This work serves as a sequel to Yin's "Coolies." It targets the lives of Chinese Americans during the mid-1800s. This time, Shek's youngest brother, Ming arrives in San Francisco. His two older brothers, Shek and Wong, have established themselves in their China Town community and are owners of a small general store. They store is tucked away on the outskirts of town and is patronized solely by Asians.

It appears Shek and Wong have encountered economic hardship, for many Chinese are traveling to the north of their community to serve as laborers on the trans-Atlantic railroad. Brother Wong too has had to join the ranks of those railroad laborers. That exodus is negatively impacting the family business. Shek stayed behind to tend the store; he opts to keep his distance from the Irish community on the outskirts of town. Upon his brother, Ming's arrival, Shek advises his younger sibling to stay within the boundaries of their neighborhood. Shek makes every effort to make Ming feel comfortable within the confines of their community.

One afternoon, Shek informs Ming that he has to leave for a few days because he must work on a neighboring farm to bring in extra income. He reminds his little brother to stay clear of the white section of town. Placing his queue beneath his hat, inquisitive, Ming toddles off to the white section of town where he observes children attending school. Many whites give Ming a condescending glare as he passes by. Ignoring their stares, he dreams of one day attending school. Just then, he feels a tap on his shoulder. It is a gregarious youngster named Patrick O'Farrell. Despite language barriers, Ming and Patrick connect right away. Each day while his big brother is away, Ming and Patrick meet and play with one another. Soon, Shek returns and discovers his little brother has disobeyed him. Incensed, he reprimands Ming, but Ming holds his ground, asserting that Patrick is truly his friend. Reluctantly, Shek concedes and allows his little brother to maintain his friendship with his Irish-American child, still warning him to "be careful."

Months pass, and Ming and Patrick's relationship grows stronger. Ming teaches Patrick much about Chinese culture; Patrick teaches Ming much about American culture—and how to speak English. One day, Patrick takes their relationship a step further by inviting Wong to his home to meet his family. Thinking about his brother's previous assertions and past experiences, Ming is petrified. Nevertheless, he visits with the O'Farrell's, only to find that family placed little emphasis on Ming's race or ethnicity. Ming soon learns that Patrick is an "apple who has not fallen far from the family tree."

Life circumstance, however, has become dire at the family store. Shek informs Ming that business is so slow, that he may have to shut down the store and join his brother working on the railroad. At wits end, Ming shares an idea with Patrick; Mr. O'Farrell's family also gives Ming a few suggestions regarding additional items to stock in the store. Patrick and Ming create a sign in English and Mandarin and post them on the front of the store: they read "General Store: We Speak English." Soon, all of the townspeople begin to patronize the store. Business starts to boom. Shek allows the signs to remain posted. Wong is able to return home to help out in the store. Patrick and Wong remain such good friends they call themselves "hing-dai"—brothers!

Key Questions Reviewed

(1) Shek, a general storeowner, Ming his little brother, Patrick O'Farrell and his Irish-American family are the primary characters in this story.

(2) Shek was a Chinese emigrant who had originally come to America via China. Ming had recently migrated to San Francisco to come live with his older brothers, Shek and Wong. Patrick, who becomes Ming's friend, and Patrick's Irish-American family had previously settled and resided in the San Francisco region.

(3) Shek's family had come to America in search of making a better life for himself and his family. Ming migrated to America from China, as had his older brother. They came in search of job opportunities and establishing a new home. Although not stated, Patrick O'Farrell and his family may have lived in San Francisco as a result of seeking a better life by perhaps mining or working for the railroad. Nevertheless, the O'Farrell family was already established in the community when Ming arrived.

(4) Shek was industrious because he productively ran his family's general store while his brother, Wong, was away, working to help build the railroad; caring because he took care of his brother and made sure he did the right things upon Ming's arrival to America; trusting because he left Ming to mind the store, and he trusted his little brother to obey his instructions while he left to go work away from home for a few days; vigilant because he looked after his home and the store, concerned because he knew his little brother did not know their neighborhood and he was unable to stick around to keep an eye out on Ming, and apprehensive because he did not trust the white members of the surrounding community because of past racial encounters with the Irish while working on the railroad. Ming was courageous because he traveled such a long distance from China to America by himself; inquisitive because upon arriving to San Francisco, he asked loads of questions and wanted to know more about the community and its people; unafraid because he was willing to venture outside of his community to learn about others; disobedient because he entered the neighborhood outside of his immediate community even though his brother advised him not to; affable because he became friends with Patrick; nervous and uncomfortable because he was uncertain as to how Patrick's family would react to him when they discovered he was Chinese, and he was uncertain as to how Shek would react towards his disobedience; honest because he opened up and told his older brother that he had disobeyed him; and intelligent because he helped Shek figure out how to bring more patrons to their general store. Patrick was gregarious because he reached out to be Ming's friend, and race and ethnicity did not matter to him; compassionate because he cared about his friend's family possibly going out of business for lack of patrons, caring because he helped Ming brainstorm on how to draw more customers to their store; gregarious because he made friends with Ming and invited Ming to come to his family's home; and curious because he was interested in learning about Ming's culture—and the items found in his friend's family-owned business. The O'Farrells were opened and non-discriminatory because they treated Ming like a fellow human being; kind because they welcomed Ming into their home, and helpful because they reached out to Shek and helped him draw new customers to his store.

(5) Race prejudice—ranging from name calling to physical abuse—impacted the Asians. Shek had experienced that prejudice while working alongside whites on the railroad. Because of past dehumanizing encounters, it can be inferred that Shek did not feel free or comfortable enough to enter the neighboring Irish community. As a result, he opted to stay within the confines of his Asian community. We do not know if the O'Farrell family held a similar sentiment. The fact that people looked at Ming condescendingly when he ventured into their neighborhood and that whites lived on the other side of town and did not patronize Shek's store implied that race prejudice probably existed. Other factors also contribute to this perception: Patrick could speak English and was able to attend school in his community. Ming could not speak English and longed to go to school. We do not know if Ming was able to attend school at that time: based on laws that existed during that time period, Ming probably would not have been allowed to do so.

(6) Ming and Patrick were courageous trendsetters because they ventured beyond the confines of pocketed communities, in their own way breaking down racial and language barriers. Because Patrick and Ming—two people from differing cultures—took the first step, they began to learn about one another. Because the two boys learned about one another, they soon became best friends. Their energy became contagious such that Ming's older brother's attitude changed. Without forfeiting his identity, Shek allowed English and Chinese advertisements to be posted in his store. Doing so opened up his business to diverse patronage; Shek's business began to prosper. Because of Patrick's openness, the O'Farrell family seemed to genuinely embrace Ming as a welcomed guest in their home. Patrick's family extended an additional hand by encouraging members of their community to patronize Shek's store. The O'Farrell's ventured outside of their community's mindset. Each of the represented families in this story were free take a chance to step outside of cultural comfort zones to make a difference their and their communities' lives.

(7) Shek, Ming, and Patrick overcame their obstacles, and freedom was achieved to some degree: Ming and Patrick embraced the freedom of stepping outside of cultural comfort zones to develop a lasting friendship. Shek experienced a sense of freedom by choosing to go beyond his community in search of employment, by opting to stay within the confines of his neighborhood to have a sense of security (some may disagree and consider this rather a type of imprisonment), and in time, by expanding his business to include patrons from outside of his Asian community. The O'Farrell's experienced a sense of freedom by being able to work and reside in their community. They felt free to extend themselves to their Asian neighbors, welcoming outsiders into their community despite possible flak from their Euro-American neighbors. Despite the obstacles, all parties took advantage of the freedom to choose, and those choices had a direct impact on their quality of life.

Extension Activity: Ask students to think about friendship and how much it is worth. Then, have them step into Ming's or Patrick's shoes and write a descriptive journal insert regarding how the two boys must have felt regarding maintaining their friendship. Urge students to write in the "I" voice, using key info from the text to support their response.

Section 3. Conclusion – Tying It All Together

This marks Week 8—the final week of our unit. After having read and evaluated each of our reading selections, conduct a grand finale rap session to highlight our views about America. Revisit the initial recorded info on the K-W-L chart. Include new input, and compare and contrast initial thoughts with final conclusions. Revisit our word wall to affirm our understanding of all definitions. Ultimately, our young learners will have discovered that:

(1) Diverse groups of Americans live in our country. Many were born here. Many came to America as emigrants or immigrants and underwent a naturalization process. To go through either of these processes renders one American.

(2) During slavery times, many Africans were brought against their will to work and live in America. Their descendants were born and raised in America. Enslaved Africans who lived in America were granted their freedom. They and their descendants are Americans.

(3) When we say we are "American" we define our nationality. When we classify ourselves as red, yellow, green, white, or brown, we identify race. When we define ourselves by our ancestral line or religious background, we recognize our ethnicity.

(4) Americans are considered a "mosaic of people" because our nation is comprised of citizens from diverse racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds.

(5) Despite often untold histories, diverse groups of people have contributed to making America the great nation that it is today. Because of this, we proudly say "The Pledge of Allegiance" and sing our patriotic songs.

(6) Freedom takes on different meanings for different people based on circumstances experienced in their lives.

(7) In America, we are free to make choices. Sometimes, those choices result in good or bad consequences. The fact that we are free to make choices helps us define why our country is called the "Land of the Free!"

Extension Activity: As a class, collectively create a big book entitled "The Idea of America." Have children each take a moment to write one line to descriptively highlight their "idea of America." To create an engaging artistic work, type up student sentence creations in a font proportionate to page size; superimpose typed wording on 16 x 24 or 18 x 20 card stock, to be later bound and, for durability purposes, laminated for use in the big book compilation. Begin with the wording: "The idea of America is being free to _______________________. Students will fill in the blank. For example: "The idea of America is being free to celebrate Dawali with Achintya and Achintya celebrating Kwanzaa with me… The idea of America is being free to sip water from the same water fountain as my white and brown and black and yellow and white classmates… The idea of America is being free to enjoy listening to hip hop music, jazz, and classical music too…" Place each typed statement on an individual page, and have students provide accompanying illustrations. Bind pages and include in your classroom library for future use. Host a special presentation to highlight the collective effort before a listening audience: use a power point presentation or have students role play their "Idea of America" statements. Conclude with a musical rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Black Man," knowing students will sing with fervor because they grasp the concept of being an integral part of the American Mosaic!

Teacher Resources

Ambrose, Stephen E. Nothing Like It In The World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroads 1863-1869. Simon & Schuster. November 2001. Provides background info and fascinating photos re: the building of America's railroad system.

Cavan, Seamus. Coming to America: The Irish-Amercan Experience. Millbrook Press. Brookfield, CT. 1993. Informative background info on Irish-American heritage.

Chang, Iris. The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. Penguin Books. New York March 2004. Examines Chinese immigration from the 1850s to the 21 st century with section on Irish harassment of Asians during the Central Pacific Railroad construction.

Franklin, John Hope and Moss, Jr., Alfred A. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. April 2000. Provides in-depth background info re: black heritage.

McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000. Ignatiev, Noel. How the Irish Became White. Routledge Press. New York and Great Britain. September 2008. Highlights Irish immigration to America and their "outcast status" as newcomers to the U.S. A fascinating look at immigration and the dynamics of race in America from multiple perspectives.

Morgan, Kenneth. Slavery and Servitude in Colonial America. NYU Press. New York, August 2001. A comparative look at indentured servitude and black slavery during the 17 th and 18 th centuries and how they helped lay the economic framework of America.

Ward. Geoffrey C. The West: An Illustrated History. Back Bay Books, New York. October 2003. An illustrated history of the American West; zeroes in on Native American resistance and European westward expansion.

Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. New York, November 2010. Provides a refreshing, culturally-inclusive account of American History.

Children's Book Resources

Levine, Ellen. …If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad. Scholastic. New York, 1988. Provides background info regarding the institution of chattel slavery from a first person perspective; good inference literacy-focus resource for young learners.

McGill, Alice. Molly Banneky. Sandpiper, New York. January 2009. A fictionalized historical fiction work surrounding the life of British-born indentured servant Molly Banneker, grandmother of African-American scientist/Mathematician/slavery descendant Benjamin Banneker. Extraordinary illustrations.

Yin. Coolies. Philomel Books, New York. An enlightening American survival-and-success story, highlighting harsh life encounters experienced by Chinese laborers who played an integral role in building the American railroad system.

__________. Brothers. Philomel Books, New York. Rarely told tale of the Chinese emigrants quest to reach the American dream and Asian interactions with Irish immigrants in San Francisco between 1845–1851. This work puts the accent on a flourishing childhood friendship despite racial turmoil.

Internet Resources

Digital History: Chinese Immigrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Basic overview (accessed May 1, 2011).

Digital History: Asian-American Voices. Racism and the law as it pertained to Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, and other non-whites as affirmed by the California Supreme Court during the mid 1800s (accessed May 1, 2011).

Digital History: Landmarks in Immigration History - Time Line. References the Ireland Potato famine and Irish migration to the U.S., Asian migration to the U.S., the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, the abolishment of slavery, exclusivity clauses in the U.S. Immigration Act, and more are included hereon (accessed May 1, 2011).

History Detectives: Indentured Servants in the United States. Brief highlight of indentured servitude beginning in the United States (specifically in Virginia) during 1607 (accessed May 3, 2011).

The Social Work History Station: A CSWE Millennium Project. Sponsored by Boise State College, an extraordinary website highlighting early American History, biographical sketches of diverse groups of Americans, and more. Provides insight into the economic foundation of the United States via the use of indentured servitude and Black slavery between 1650 and 1800. Delves into the plight of America's poor and working class through 1940. Good information source re: diversity, social ills and their progressive impact on American society (accessed May 7, 2011).

The Terrible Transformation: From Indentured Servitude to Racial Slavery – Part 1 Background info regarding these two dehumanizing types of bondage. (accessed June 17, 2011). Various aspects of Maryland indentured servitude law as recorded by the State of Maryland. (accessed June 15, 2011).

Davidson, Basil. Africa: Episode 1 – Different But Equal Youtube Film Presentation. davidson&total=13&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1# An enlightening, visual history of African culture created by Africanologist Basil Davidson that dispels misconceptions regarding the continent (accessed on May 18, 2011).

Guion, Lisa A. and Diehl, David C. - Defining Diversity An overview of diversity (accessed on June 11, 2011).

Lancaster, R. Kent, Almost Chattel: The Lives of at Hampton – Northampton, Baltimore County Indentured servitude in Maryland, Captain Charles Ridgely (accessed June 12, 2011)

Law Library of Congress: American Women - Slavery and Indentured Servitude Specific info regarding early immigrants and enslaved blacks (accessed June 12, 2011)

Appendix of Curriculum Standards

This unit correlates with the Connecticut Framework K-12 Curricular Goals and Content Standards for Language Arts and Social Studies. Upon being immersed in select children's narratives and scaffolded instruction, students will embrace the following:

Social Studies Curriculum Content Standards 1.5, 1.13, 2a, and 2c. Students will discuss how geographical features and natural resources helped shape people's lives; understand the characteristics and interactions among and across cultures, social systems, and institutions; compare and contrast identities of ethnic/cultural groups; and identify the rights of American citizens in a democratic society.

Language Arts Content Standards 1 (Reading and Responding) and 2 (Producing Texts). Students will describe their thoughts, opinions, and questions that arise as they read and listen to a text; use relevant info from the text to summarize the content; use what they know to identify characters, settings, themes, events, ideas, relationships, and details found within the text; work both individually and on a collaborative basis in gathering historical info from a variety of primary and secondary sources (including published resources and electronic media) to substantiate fictional text; read/share their creative writings with partners, who will constructively critique the work, highlighting elements in the literary piece that coincide with questions they have about the writing.

End Notes

  1. Wonder, Stevie. Black Man,
  2. Ibid., Black Man
  3. Maryland State Archives. (accessed June 15, 2011)
  4. Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States, pp 43-45
  5. Johnson, Charles and Smith, Patricia. Africans in America: America's Journey through Slavery, pp 37-39
  6. Ibid., 41
  7. Russo-Hamond, Jean, Dr.
  8. Franklin, John Hope and Moss, Jr., Alfred A. From Slavery to Freedom, pp 108-109
  9. Zinn, Howard. Op. Cit., pp 27-28
  10. Ibid., 43-47
  11. Ibid., 43
  12. Ward, Geoffrey C., The West: An Illustrated History, pp 216-220
  13. Ambrose, Stephen E., Nothing Like It In The World, p 150
  14. Ibid., pp 151-155
  15. Ibid., 149-153

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