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HS Unit I: Free But Far From Equal: The African American Experience in Massachusetts, 1780–1863 Lesson A: The Struggle for Racial Justice, 1780-1863
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Key Questions

  1. How did enslaved African Americans gain their freedom in Massachusetts?

  2. How did African Americans in Massachusetts build a sense of community?

  3. What strategies did abolitionists use to fight slavery?

  4. What obstacles did African Americans overcome in order to participate fully in the Union Army?

Activity 1: Starting With What Students Know
Activity 2: Exploring the Mass Moments Website for Answers
Activity 3: Creating a Timeline
Activity 4: Additional Research
Primary Sources
Related Mass Moments

"Jury Decides in Favor of Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman"
The verdict helped bring an end to slavery in Massachusetts.

"African Meeting House Opens"
From the day it opened, the building became the center of the African American community in Boston.

"David Walker Found Dead"
Walker’s mysterious death cut short the life of one of the most radical and influential black abolitionists.

"Boston Abolitionists Await Emancipation Proclamation"
Led by William Lloyd Garrison and other men and women, Massachusetts abolitionists played key roles in the movement to end slavery.

"54th Massachusetts Regiment Marches Through Boston"
In 1863 black men were finally allowed to enlist in the Union Army.

lesson image credit: United States slave trade, 1830; Library of Congress