Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence
Multigenre Text Set: Narratives of Slaves and Black Americans. In the eighteenth century, particularly in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, there were free and enslaved Black Americans living side by side. To support students to better understand and contextual the era, read other narratives of slaves including Sojourner Truth, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, and Dave Drake (known as Dave, the potter) (see Resources). Expand student understanding of the experience of slavery through the reading of African American Folktales such as the collections by Virginia Hamilton (see Resources). To further student understanding, view the video of Danny Glover reading from Frederick Douglass’ “The Meaning of Fourth of July for a Negro.” Encourage students to share what they learned from this performance about the complexity of national identity for slaves. Share these texts alongside accounts of African Americans who lived in this era and were not enslaved such as the Black whaling captain Paul Cuffee. Students can be supported to understand that slavery existed in the North and that being Black was not synonymous with slavery.
Modeled Inquiry and Becoming Inquirers. Mumbet’s freedom started with her own inquiry. She imagined a better world where she could secure her own freedom. Support students to share their own wonderings about the story, this chapter in American history, and about other conditions of injustice. What wonderings do they have that can make the world a better place? What would they like to change in their own neighborhoods? What will they do to enact this change?
Gretchen Woelfle’s Site
Alix Delinois’ Site
New York Times Book Review
Site Dedicated to Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman
Massachusetts Historical Society
The MA Historical Society
African American History Museum: Nantucket Campus
Paul Cuffee Collection at the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Bolden, T. (2002). Tell all the children our story: Memories and mementos of being young and black in america. Henry N. Adams Press.
Hamilton, V. (2002). Many thousand gone: African americans from slavery to freedom. New York, NY: Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Hill, L.C. (2010). Dave the potter: Artist, poet, slave. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Jacobs, H. (1861/2001). Harriet Jacobs: Incidents from the life of a slave girl. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.
Levine, E. (2007). Henry’s freedom box. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
Truth, S. ( 1850/1997). Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.
National Geographic. (2008). Every human has rights: What you need to know about your human rights. Des Moines, IA: National Geographic Children’s Books.
Stroud, B. (2007). The patchwork path: A quilt map to freedom. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Filed under: Fictionalized Biography
About Katie Cunningham
Katie is a Professor of Literacy and English Education at Manhattanville College. There she is also the Director of the Advanced Certificate Program in Social and Emotional Learning and Whole Child Education. Her work focuses on children’s literature, joyful literacy methods, and literacy leadership. Katie is the author of Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning and co-author of Literacy Leadership in Changing Schools. Her book Start with Joy: Designing Literacy Learning for Student Happiness will be released September 2019. She is passionate about the power of stories to transform lives.
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