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HS Unit I: Free But Far From Equal: The African American Experience in Massachusetts, 1780–1863 Lesson B: Men and Women, Black and White, Who Made a Difference
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Key Questions

  1. What strategies did blacks in Massachusetts use to attain civil rights?

  2. What drove these activists to seek change?

Activity 1: Interviewing Anti-Slavery Activists
Primary Sources
Related Mass Moments

"America's First Black Poet Purchased as a Slave"
In 1773 Phillis Wheatley became the first African American to have a book of poetry published.

"Paul Cuffe Sails for Sierra Leone"
Among the most respected and successful black men in the country at the turn of the century, Cuffe worked to extend economic opportunities to other African Americans.

"Captain Absalom Boston Dies on Nantucket"
After retiring from whaling in the early 1800s, Boston worked on behalf of Nantucketís black community.

"Lydia Maria Child Dies"
For more than 50 years, Child wrote and spoke against injustices of all kinds.

"Angelina Grimke Addresses Legislature"
Daughters of a South Carolina slave owner, Grimkť and her sister defied convention by speaking in public.

"Frederick Douglass First Addresses White Audience"
A stunning orator and eloquent writer, Douglass served for over half a century as an untiring advocate for racial justice.

"Northampton Dedicates Sojourner Truth Statue"
In Northampton in 1843, Sojourner Truth began her career as an eloquent spokesperson for abolitionism, womanís rights, and temperance.

"Sarah Remond Ejected from Boston Theater"
Sarah Remond, like all the members of her family, challenged Massachusetts segregation laws.

"John Brown Speaks in Concord "
Considered by some a courageous abolitionist and by others a mad man, Brown was hanged for staging a raid on a federal arsenal.

"Sumner Attacked in U.S. Senate"
One of the few abolitionists to advocate equal rights for African Americans, Sumner led the U.S. Senate to enact ground-breaking legislation.

"John Greenleaf Whittier Dies"
Despite the fact that it made it very difficult to have his poems published, Whittier continued to write in opposition to slavery.

"Sculptor Edmonia Lewis Displays Work in Boston"
Lewis was the first American of color to earn an international reputation as a sculptor.

lesson image credit: Significant election scene at Washington, June 3, 1867 / sketched by A.W. M'Callum; Library of Congress