African diaspora resources for curriculum development & inquiry building

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Topic: Transatlantic Slave Trade (7th grade Middle School)


From 15th century to 19th centuries, the largest forced migration in the world took place, the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Shortly after the European conquest of the New World and the Columbian Exchange, Native Americans in the Americas were initially enslaved. The indigenous population of the Americas begins to die out due to harsh treatment and disease from the various conquering European nations. Thus leaving a demand for a new labor force. Since European nations already had trading post along the coast of Africa and established trading relationships with various African nations they began to use Africans to replace the indigenous population in the Americas. This horrendous slave trade dehumanized and brutalized African people, took them from their native land and families, forced them to work under the most brutal and terrible conditions known to human kind. African people were kidnapped from their homeland, enslaved and forced to endure the horrors of the middle passage and a life of servitude. This resource represents specific concepts issues to help you and your students understand the transatlantic Slave trade and the emergence of the African Diaspora.


  1. 7.C.1.1- Explain how culture unites and divides modern societies and regions (e.g. enslavement of various peoples, caste system, religious conflict and Social Darwinism).

  1. 7.H.2.1- Analyze the effects of social, economic, military and political conflict among nations, regions, and groups (e.g. war, genocide, imperialism and colonization).

  1. 7.H1.3- Use primary and secondary sources to interpret various historical perspectives.

  1. 7.E.1.1- Explain how competition for resources affects the economic relationship among nations (e.g. colonialism, imperialism, globalization and interdependence).


  • Migration vs. forced migration

  • Trade

  • Slavery

  • Ethnic groups

  • Enslaved vs. slave

  • Resistance

  • Diaspora

  • Social Darwinism

  • Racism

  • Oppression

  • Rebellions

  • Law

  • Ethnic Conflict

  • Agency

  • War

  • Punishment

  • Property

  • Working conditions

  • Human rights


  • Primary Sources

  • Secondary Sources

  • Colonization

  • Columbian Exchange

  • Imperialism

  • Capitalism

  • Perspectives

  • Authority

  • Supremacy

  • Inferiority

  • Trade

  • Kidnap

  • Capture

  • Conflicts

  • Nations

  • Economics

  • Abolitionist


  1. People who are enslaved endure some of the worst conditions known to humankind.

  2. Enslaved people show agency and resist their enslavement through various types of resistance

  3. Traders made a substantial amount of money from the enslavement of people and other goods.

  4. People who are oppressed by various government institutions still face many challenges after gaining certain freedoms.

  5. Governments can impose laws than can be unjust and oppressive which infringe upon the rights of their citizens.


  1. Do you think America has properly dealt with its shameful past in regards to the Transatlantic slave trade?

  2. Does the Transatlantic Slave Trade still impact society today?

  3. Do you think countries that had the institution of slavery should pay reparations to the descendants of the enslaved?

  4. Does slavery still exist in our world today?  If so in ways is it similar and different to the transatlantic Slave trade?

Supporting Questions:

  1. Why should we learn about the slave trade?

  2. What Is the African Diaspora?

  3. What is the difference between the type of slavery the existed before the Transatlantic Slave trade and during the Transatlantic Slave Trade?

  4. How did slavery impact African people, slave traders, and slave masters?

  5. In what ways did Slave traders, slave masters and overseers benefit from the Slave trade?

Annotated Resources


Annotated Resources:

1. In Motion by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture- This resource has been developed by the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture.  This resource gives an overview of migrations of people of African Descent starting with the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the present.  The In Motion site has an enormous amount of resources such as primary sources, secondary sources and lesson plans.  The primary sources include photos, essays, maps, narratives and brief biographies.   The secondary sources include interactive timelines, maps, scholarly writings on the topic of the Transatlantic Slave trade and the domestic trade.  This resource will be a great asset to teachers and students of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.  This resource has various strengths such as its interactive timeline, which covers important watershed moments of the African Diaspora, African American migrations and U.S. History. An additional strength is that this resource provides a range of lesson plans, which cover different topics of the Transatlantic slave trade.

2. The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database-

The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database is a scholarly and well-researched database by Emory University and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  This resource compiles an immense amount of slave ship data, an African names Database, and includes estimates of enslaved people on the Transatlantic Slave Trade voyages.   One of the key strengths of this website is the access it grants to charts, graphs, timelines and essays about the transatlantic slave trade. An additional strength is that it provides educators on various levels such as middle school, high school and university professors with lesson plans.  In addition to lesson plans, the site also has a web resources page that gives readers and researchers additional sites where they can access more information on the Transatlantic slave trade.

  1. Slavery And the Making of America- The Slavery and the Making of America website was developed by PBS.  This resource gives an overview of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Slave Trade in the United States.  This resource is very thorough and well researched, as it provides research from top scholars of the Slave trade.  One of the key strengths of this resource is the plethora of information it provides.  This resource includes a timeline section, which highlights watershed moments in US History and the Slave Trade.  Secondly, this resource includes resource section, which provides print, online resources, resources for kids, WPA slave narratives, and TV & video resources.  In addition to the timeline and resource section, this website provides a Slave experience section which is a very concise and well-developed summary of how slavery affects the lives of enslaved people.   The Slave Experience section includes information about the following topics:  legal rights and government, family, men, women, gender, living conditions, education, arts & culture, religion, responses to enslavement and freedom and emancipation.

  1. The International Slavery Museum- The International Slavery Museum website is an excellent and informative resource for the Transatlantic slave trade. This website gives an overview of the history of the Transatlantic slave trade. One of the key strengths of the website are the range of topics covered about the slave trade. The topics covered on this website are the following: the trade triangle, Africa before European Slavery, European traders, Life on board slave ships, Arrival in the Americas and Archaeology. The website also provides resources such as a booklist, additional websites and an interactive feature entitled “Enslaved Africans: Our Truth interactive feature.” This interactive feature exposes readers to the perspective on enslaved Africans. Moreover, This website also provides an audio feature which reads a portion of Olaudah Equiano’s Early Life in Africa.

  1. The Mariner’s Museum-

  1. Fordham University Internet Sourcebook on the Impact of Slavery-

  1. The National Museum of African American History & Culture-

  1. The Creation of the African Diaspora-

  1. The Voyages of Slaves in the Transatlantic Slave Trade-

6. Virtual Visit to Gorée Island:

7. UNESCO Transatlantic Slave Trade: -

8. Learn NC:

9. Slave Narratives: To Be a Slave by Julius Lester, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick

Douglass, Olaudah Equiano (most can be found on line)

Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative-

Frederick Douglass Narrative:

Harriet Jacobs Narrative:

10. Maroon Societies-

Things to keep in mind while teaching the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade

  • African societies were well developed and organized before chattel slavery.

  • African societies were very diverse with many ethnic groups and many languages.

  • The Transatlantic Slave trade took place during the 15th and 19th century and was the largest forced migration in the world, which had substantial impact on African and European nations and European colonies.

  • The middle passage was a horrendous journey from Africa to the Americas, which African people endured some of the worst conditions known to humankind.

  • Enslaved people showed agency and resisted their enslavement through various resistance such as work slow downs, destroying equipment, revolting, arson, setting fires, poisoning their master or the master’s family, taking their own lives, running away and keeping their cultural traditions alive.

  • Slave traders made a substantial amount of money from the enslavement of African people.

  • Enslaved Africans worked from sun up to sun down and endured many forms of punishment on the plantation.  Women did the same backbreaking work as men on plantations.

  • The African Diaspora is the spreading of the African people and their descendants around the world.

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