African Americans in Philadelphia Choiceboard

by Aisha Madhi, Teacher, School District of Philadelphia, Constitution High School

Using your knowledge of the African American community in Philadelphia before the Civil War, you will select an activity to complete on the choice board below. Your mission will be to use an artistic medium to represent the opportunities and challenges faced by African Americans in an era of slavery.  Students can use the PBS “Brotherly Love” reading (“Africans in America: Brotherly Love” Reading Analysis Sheet - for information on the African American community. Assignments are to be completed in class, and can be done individually or in groups.


Activity A-1 Activity A-2 Activity A-3
Philadelphia Travel Brochure Editorial Symbols of Freedom

Create a one page travel brochure to attract African Americans to Philadelphia. In your brochure describe why Philadelphia was a desirable destination for African Americans during the 1800s. Describe available labor opportunities and the role of social networks like churches in providing support to newly freed African Americans.

You will write a letter to a newsaper editor discussing the issue of whether the United States should abolish slavery. Explain the main arguments for and against slavery, and explain which parts of the country would have been likely to support or oppose slavery.

 Abolitionists used a variety of means to promote their efforts to end African slavery, from medallions to newspapers and even porcelain china inscribed with abolition messages.

Create a poster with symbols that represent concepts of freedom and equality. Create a powerful slogan or message to encourage others to abolish slavery.



Activity B-1 Activity B-2 Activity B-3
Poetic Justice Dear Diary History Detective

Write a poem or rap that reflects the challenges and opportunities experienced by free African Americans living in the North before the Civil War. Describe daily life for African Americans and the struggle for equality and freedom African Americans faced during that time.

Imagine you are an abolitionist living in Philadelphia. Write a diary entry about how you and other Philadelphia abolitionists worked to coordinate the Underground Railroad and form anti-slavery organizations locally.

Using a textbook or the internet, locate a primary source, or historical document, from the early 1800s that relates to the African American community in Philadelphia. It can be a newspaper clipping, a painting, etc. Explain the message of the document and how it relates to Philadelphia.