Examining Slavery

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Clemente’s sophomore US History students have been examining the history of slavery in the United States. They have been immersed in the subject with a focus on resistance and rebellion. This focus has given students the opportunity to forge a compassionate link to the large numbers of people who were the victims of slavery as opposed to thinking of them simply in terms of numbers. Students were asked to discuss what it would be like if, every day for centuries, people were being pulled out of their lives and communities to be enslaved. Students considered the impact on those who remained behind and the kinds of holes in the fabric of their lives that were created. As one student put it “slavery dehumanized, we need to RE-humanize”.

For a culminating project their task was to find a slave rebellion that happened in any time period of human history. In their projects students researched the cause of the rebellion, the time period when the rebellion happened, what part of the world it occurred in, and contemporary connections with modern day life.

The sophomores produces a vast array of work to illustrate their understandings of the forces that led to this “peculiar institution”, but just as importantly, how people resisted. Their presentations included skits, debates, artwork, poetry, multimedia presentations, and research papers that demonstrated a deep understanding of the cultural, economic, societal, and contemporary impact of slavery. Students displayed many of the tenets of social justice in their work and exhibited a determination to challenge the status quo through reflective and principled analysis and study.

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