A former slave and “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, Tubman said that she used spirituals such as “Go Down Moses” to signal slaves that she was in the area, and would help any who wanted to escape.
Why were Negro spirituals so important to the Underground Railroad?
One of the songs of the Underground Railroad was “Wade in the Water”. While it hasn’t been proven, it is believed that Harriett Tubman used this traditional Negro Spiritual as a way to warn slaves to get into the water to hide their scent from the slavecatching dogs on their trail.
What are coded spirituals?
In African American history, especially during the experience of enslavement, spirituals were sometime coded, meaning that the meaning was intentionally disguised from the slave holders and other whites through use of words or phrases understood by the singers, but not by the slave holders.
What music did Harriet Tubman like?
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Coming for to carry me home, Perhaps one of the most enduring songs of this time period, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is said to be Harriet Tubman’s favorite. If a slave heard this song in the South, they knew they had to prepare for escape.
What is the connection between African American spirituals and the Underground Railroad?
Songs were used in everyday life by African slaves. Singing was tradition brought from Africa by the first slaves; sometimes their songs are called spirituals. Singing served many purposes such as providing repetitive rhythm for repetitive manual work, inspiration and motivation.
What were two musical techniques used in spirituals?
Singing, drumming, and chanting are all deeply important aspects of many different African religions and cultures. These musical elements were retained in spirituals, but were often slowed down to a dirge-like pace.
What is the hidden message in Wade in the Water?
For example, Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water to make sure the dogs slavecatchers used couldn’t sniff out their trail. People walking through water did not leave a scent trail that dogs could follow.
What are spirituals in music?
A spiritual is a type of religious folksong that is most closely associated with the enslavement of African people in the American South. The songs proliferated in the last few decades of the eighteenth century leading up to the abolishment of legalized slavery in the 1860s.
What is the origin of Negro spirituals?
Spirituals (also known as Negro spirituals, Spiritual music, or African-American spirituals) is a genre of music that is “purely and solely the creation” of generations of African Americans, which merged African cultural heritage with the experiences of being held in bondage in slavery, at first during the
What was the Jordan River code for?
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Sweet Canaan’s Happy Land,” “March Down to Jordan,” and “Roll, Jordan, Roll” all refer to these biblical sites. The Jordan River once crossed promised freedom and was parted by the prophet Elijah. In the New Testament, the Jordan River was also the baptismal place of Jesus Christ.
What is the connection between songs and the Underground Railroad?
As it was illegal in most slave states to teach slaves to read or write, songs were used to communicate messages and directions about when, where, and how to escape, and warned of dangers and obstacles along the route.
Who Wrote the songs of the Underground Railroad?
The very first sonic reference director Barry Jenkins sent to composer and frequent collaborator Nicholas Britell for “The Underground Railroad,” the epic 10-part Amazon series, was a cryptic audio message of a drilling sound.
How did slaves use music?
Initially, slaves used song and music to boost the overall happiness of the people they worked with. During times of difficult labor, slaves would break out in a song to pass the time, and lift their spirits. Slaves would often sing songs that praised the lord, or asked the lord for help and guidance.
Songs of the Underground Railroad : Harriet Tubman
African slaves incorporated songs into their daily routines. Singing was a custom brought to America by the earliest slaves from Africa; their songs are frequently referred to as spirituals. It performed a variety of functions, including supplying repeating rhythm for repetitive physical labor, as well as serving as an inspiration and incentive. Singing was also used to communicate their shared beliefs and solidarity with one another, as well as to mark important occasions. Because the majority of slaves were illiterate, songs were employed to help them recall and communicate with one another.
Music coded with instructions on how to escape, also known as signal songs, or where to rendezvous, known as map songs, was played during the performance.
Songs made use of biblical allusions and comparisons to biblical characters, places, and tales, while also drawing parallels between them and their own past of enslavement.
To a slave, however, it meant being ready to go to Canada.
In Wade in the Water
Tubman used the phrase “Wade in the Water” to instruct slaves to enter the water in order to avoid being spotted and make it through. This is an example of a map song, in which the lyrics contain codes that denote the locations of various landmarks. The following are the lyrics to the song “Wade in the Water.” Chorus: Children, wade in the water, wade in the water, wade in the water Wade through the water. God is going to cause turmoil in the sea. What is the identity of those children who are all dressed in red?
- They must be the ones who followed Moses.
- Chorus What is the identity of those children who are all clothed in white?
- It has to be the ones belonging to the Israelites.
- Chorus What is the identity of those children who are all clothed in blue?
- They must be the ones who made it to the other side.
This song conveys the message that the person who is singing it is intending to flee. sneak away, steal away, steal away! is the chorus. Is it possible to steal away to Jesus? Slip away, steal away to your own house! I don’t have much time left in this place! My Lord has summoned me! He screams out to me above the thunder!
It’s like the trumpet is blowing in my spirit! I don’t have much time left in this place! Chorus My Lord has summoned me! He yells my name because of the illumination! It’s like the trumpet is blowing in my spirit! I don’t have much time left in this place! Chorus.
According to this song, the one singing it is preparing to flee the country. sneak away, steal away! repeats the chorus. Taking Jesus away from me? Home is where the thief goes. The time is ticking away on me! I’ve been summoned by the Lord! By the thunder, he summons me. Within me, I can hear the trumpet playing. The time is ticking away on me! Chorus I’ve been summoned by the Lord! His lights is what he uses to beckon me! Within me, I can hear the trumpet playing. The time is ticking away on me!
Follow the Drinking Gourd
As the days become longer in the spring, this song advises that you should move away. Additionally, it is used to allude to quails, which begin calling to one another around April. The drinking gourd is really a water dipper, which is a code name for the Big Dipper, which is a constellation that points to the Pole Star in the direction of the north. Because moss develops on the north side of dead trees, if the Big Dipper is not visible, dead trees will steer them in the right direction. I When the sun returns and the first quail calls, it’s time to get out of bed.
- Because the elderly guy is standing by, ready to transport you to freedom.
- The riverside serves as a highly effective road.
- Follow the Drinking Gourd with your left foot, peg foot, and traveling on.
- Follow the path of the Drinking Gourd.
- Follow the path of the Drinking Gourd.
- Follow the path of the Drinking Gourd.
- If you go the path of the drinking gourd.
This song gives them the assurance that it is safe to approach her.
I salute you, ye joyful spirits, I salute you.
A thousand angels surround Him, constantly ready to fulfill his commands; they hover over you at all times, until you reach the celestial realm.
He whose thunders tremble creation, He who commands the planets to move, He who rides atop the tempest, And whose scepter sways the entire universe is the God of Thunder.
Sarah Hopkins Bradford’s book Harriet Tubman, the Moses of her People, is the source for this information.
All the way down into Egypt’s territory, Please tell old Pharaoh that my people must be let to leave.
I heard that Pharaoh would cross the river; let my people go; and don’t get lost in the desert; let my people go. Chorus He sits in the Heavens and answers prayer, so let my people leave! You may obstruct me here, but you cannot obstruct me up there, so let my people go! Chorus
Songs of the African American Civil Rights Movement
Coded music, underground railroad, Underground Railroad codes, Underground Railroad codes Underground Railroad is a subcategory of the category Underground Railroad.
Music Was The Secret Language Of The Underground Railroad
While in elementary school, we were all taught about the Underground Railroad, which was a network of hidden ways slaves used to escape to freedom from slavery. It continues to be one of the most intriguing examples of bravery and resistance in the history of the United States. In spite of this, many of us have little knowledge of how it truly worked. What was the best technique for escaping slaves to figure out which way to go? What method did people use to communicate across hundreds of miles before the Internet existed?
Because it was prohibited in most southern states to educate slaves to read or write, songs coded with secret messages were used to communicate information about the trip north.
In order to connect with visitors, Harriet Tubman, sometimes known as “Moses,” employed music.
Some historians are doubtful about the origins of these songs and their secret codes because there is no recorded confirmation of their existence or of their hidden codes.
Follow The Drinking Gourd
“When the light returns and the first fowl calls, follow the drinking gourd to the water source. “Follow the drinking gourd to where the elderly guy is waiting to take you to freedom.” ” Follow The Drinking Gourd ” is considered to be one of the greatest examples of a “map song,” as it offers vital information for slaves attempting to elude capture. This poem’s first line refers to the beginning of spring (when the days are longer), which was the finest time to embark on the lengthy trek to the North.
When travelers followed the path of the constellation Polaris (the north star), they had a guide in the night sky that guided them in the direction of freedom and independence.
Wade In The Water
“Take a dip in the water. God is going to cause turmoil in the sea. What is the identity of those children who are all dressed in red? God is going to cause turmoil in the sea. They must be the ones who followed Moses. “God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.” Some believe that Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade In The Water,” which used Biblical imagery to avoid being suspected, to instruct runaway slaves on how to avoid capture and escape from slavery. If they were concerned that they were being followed, they might take cover in the water, which would keep bloodhounds off their trail.
It has been covered by a variety of artists, including Mavis Staples, Eva Cassidy, and Bob Dylan, since it was initially released as a song with words in 1901.
The title of the award-winning documentary ” Trouble The Water,” which is based on the lyrics of the song, was also inspired by lyrics from the song.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
“Swing low, lovely chariot, coming for to bring me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.” I looked around Jordan and what did I see coming for me to take me home, I don’t know. Coming after me is a group of angels who are determined to bring me home. ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot ” is thought to be Harriet Tubman’s favorite song, and it is one of the most enduring tunes from this time period.
The Underground Railroad’s directors (sweet chariot) were known to as the “band of angels” since they would soon arrive from the south (swing low) to escort slaves up the railroad to freedom (carry me home).
Underground Music Today
The chariot is coming to take me home, Swing low, lovely chariot, the chariot is coming to take me home, Swing low, sweet chariot, the chariot is coming to take me home, swing low, dear chariot, the chariot is coming to take me home Looking about Jordan, I noticed something: a vehicle coming towards me, presumably to transport me home. They are following me, bringing me back to the place of my origin. ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot ” is supposed to be Harriet Tubman’s favorite song, and it is undoubtedly one of the most enduring tunes from this period.
The Underground Railroad’s directors (sweet chariot) were known to as the “band of angels” since they would soon arrive from the south (swing low) to escort slaves to freedom in the north (carry me home).
Hidden Messages in Spirituals
1- 2 class sessions per week
“Freedom’s Land” is a phrase that means “Freedom’s Land.”
NYS Core Curriculum – Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, 6 – 12
Reading Craftsmanship and Design (meaning of words) Writing Types of Tests and Their Purposes (organize ideas, develop topic with facts) Writing is created and distributed in two ways (develop, organize appropriate to task) Knowledge is created and communicated via study (short research project, using term effectively)
I.Culture and the Diversity of Cultural Beliefs II.The Concepts of Time, Continuity, and Change People, Places, and Environments (Part III) Individual Development and Self-Discovery IV. Individuals, groups, and organizations (V.Institutional entities) Science, Technology, and Society (Chapter VIII)
Students will be able to:understand the idea of spirituals as well as its historical context Spirituals should be read and listened to. learn about the significance of the hidden meanings included within the lyrics of spirituals construct a personal spiritual that incorporates a passage from a well-known religious text
What role did spirituals play in the preservation of African culture throughout the era of slavery? What are some of the hidden meanings in spirituals that you should be aware of? What role do the lyrics of spirituals have in conveying personal meaning?
Metaphor, spirituals, poetry, lyrics, interpretation, and self-reflection are all elements of this work.
The William Still Story: A Narrative of the Underground Railroad To play the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” you’ll need a DVD player, an MP3 player, or a CD player. Coded Lyrics Worksheet (213.6 KB) Worksheet with Coded Lyrics and Teacher Notes (215.7 KB) Classroom Student Spiritual Lyrics.pdf Classroom Student Spiritual Lyrics (214.2 KB) Video of the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (which the instructor should pre-cut and place in a box for kids to draw from) (optional)
1. Take a look at the spirituals pieces from the Underground Railroad: The William Still Story. 2. Describe how spirituals vary from hymns and psalms in that they were written as a method of sharing the difficult circumstances of being a slave with others. Make sure to talk about the major dual meaning contained in the lyrics, as well as the purpose of the lyrics for escaping slaves (codes, faith). 3. Using an Internet site, an mp3 file, or a CD, listen to the music (stopping periodically to explain parts of the song).
- Have students complete the Coded Lyrics Worksheet as the entire class discusses the significance of the lyrics.
- Play the music once more, this time without pausing.
- Provide each kid with a unique line from a box of Student Spiritual Lyrics that have been pre-cut.
- Allow students at least twenty minutes to construct their own spirituals, and provide them with the following directions before they begin writing: It is recommended that spirituals depict the life of a slave and/or the approaching journey on the Underground Railroad.
- Creative and entertaining songs should be included in the repertoire.
- Any historical facts that are presented must be accurate.
- The length criterion must be met (determined ahead of time by teacher) If students are finished with their poetry or songs, invite them to volunteer to read or sing them in front of the class.
Students will decipher the hidden meanings in spirituals through discussion in class and the use of Coded Lyrics Worksheets (coded lyrics). In addition, the pupils will create their own spiritual. Hidden Messages in Spirituals Lesson Plan (PDF): Download it now (608.2 KB)
Program Segment for Lesson Plan
To see the video, simply click on the play icon to the right.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: Songs of the Underground Railroad
Music served as the Underground Railroad’s coded communication system. The Underground Railroad, as a means of achieving freedom, was laden with risk. What was the best technique for escaping slaves to figure out which way to go? How could individuals communicate across hundreds of kilometers when the consequences of coming out of hiding may be fatal were unknown. A large part of the solution may be found in music. African slaves incorporated songs into their daily routines. Tradition introduced from Africa by the first slaves, singing was used to encourage and motivate people, as well as communicate their ideals and solidarity with one another, and was performed at festivals and other events.
- While slaves were escaping to freedom in the Northern United States and Canada during the time of the Underground Railroad, spirituals were coded with concealed instructions concerning maps, navigational methods, and the appropriate time to leave.
- Harriet Tubman, affectionately referred to as “Moses,” was well-known for using song to connect with visitors.
- Many others, on the other hand, consider them to be part of the rich oral legacy of African American folk songs that continues to influence contemporary American music.
- It is derived from the Bible that one should travel “down” to Egypt; the Old Testament acknowledges the Nile Valley as being lower than Jerusalem and the Promised Land; as a result, one should go “down” to Egypt, whereas one should go “up” away from Egypt.
- Listen to the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers sing “Go Down Moses” (Go Down Moses).
- There is a reference to the beginning of spring, which was the finest time to set off on the lengthy trek to the North.
- Travelers had a guide in the night sky that led them in the direction of freedom by following the path of the Big Dipper to the north star.
On the surface, the phrase “steal away to Jesus” meant to die and go to paradise, but it may also refer to a song in which the person who is singing it is intending to flee.
The song “Steal Away” represented the possibility of a better life for slaves, whether in freedom or in paradise.
If they were concerned that they were being followed, they might take cover in the water, which would keep bloodhounds off their trail.
Hear the Golden Gate Quartet perform “Wade in the Water” on their YouTube channel.
If a slave in the South heard this song, he or she would know it was time to start preparing for their escape.
Listen to Marion Williams perform “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” on the piano. Investigate the Sacred Music and Musicians of the African Diaspora. Sheet Music Collections are a type of collection of sheet music that is used to create music.
The Origins and History of Spirituals
InChoir Boy, you will hear a lot of songs that are derived from the tradition of African American spirituals. This practice may be traced back to the first Africans to be enslaved in America, who wrote songs to convey their frustration with slavery as well as their wish for freedom and a place to call their own. Many spirituals blend lyrics about Christian themes with melodic characteristics that are characteristic of West and Central Africa, making these songs one of the few ways in which slaves were able to maintain a tiny bit of their original culture throughout their time in slavery.
A great number of spirituals have been altered to new conditions as they have been passed down through the centuries, and many have become essential sources of inspiration and statements of dissent in the twentieth century, particularly during the Civil Rights struggle.
Did spirituals guide slaves to freedom?
Professor Pendleton challenges his pupils to offer a counter-argument to any generally accepted thesis in the play. When it comes to spirituals, Pharus chooses to challenge the widely held assumption that the lyrics of many of them include coded information regarding the routes and strategies utilized by African Americans fleeing slavery. The Underground Railroad, which was a hidden network of abolitionists that sought to aid slaves in their attempts to elude capture in the years leading up to the Civil War, is generally connected with songs such as Go Down Moses and Wade in the Water.
- Many songs did, in fact, have multiple meanings, and some of them were utilized as signals, according to evidence from primary sources.
- A similar story is told in the 1869 biography of Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman by Sarah H.
- Every song may imply different things to different people in these situations; although the subtext included messages of dissent and sometimes even insurrection, the words on the surface were benign enough to avoid catching the notice of the white authorities.
- This theory has been more difficult to sustain, though it has never been completely disproven either.
- According to the song’s title, the Big Dipper is a constellation that may be used to locate the North Star, Polaris, and the lyrics mention sights such as rivers and mountains that are believed to define a path from Mobile, Alabama to the Ohio River.
- However, the version of the lyrics that is well known today was composed in the 1940s, and it was derived from a version gathered by white folklorists in the early twentieth century, several decades after emancipation and several decades before the Civil War.
- The original version may have fulfilled the objective of retaining hope and promoting escape attempts in general rather than imparting the specifics of a precise, literal road to freedom, which may have been the intention all along.
In Mr. Pendleton’s class, Pharus makes the case that these songs have enduring value because they are a source of emotional and spiritual strength — but they are also a lively monument to the creativity, inventiveness, and compassion of the African Americans who lived throughout the era of slavery.
Pathways to Freedom
Music Because so many slaves were aware of the hidden meanings of these songs, they could be utilized to convey a variety of different things. The song “Wade in the Water,” for example, was written by Harriet Tubman in order to advise runaway slaves that they needed to go off the route and into water in order to avoid being tracked down by the dogs slavecatchers used to track them down. The scent trail left by people going through water was not one that dogs could follow. Take a look at the lyrics of “Wade in the Water.” Children, wade in the water, wade in the water, goes the chorus.
- God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.
- God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.
- God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.
- Who are those youngsters who are all clothed in white, and where did they come from?
- It has to be the ones belonging to the Israelites.
- God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.
God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.
The audio element cannot be played because your browser does not support it.
Tubman also utilized slave songs to convey other messages to his followers.
She’d order them to go into hiding and wait for her to signal them.
Whenever there was a threat, such as the presence of slavecatchers in the vicinity, she would switch to another song.
If you didn’t know about the signal, you could suppose that Tubman was singing only to pass the time of day, which would be incorrect.
According to legend, the Virginia slave Nat Turner planned a slave uprising against slave masters, and he used the song “Steal Away” as a rallying cry to gather people to discuss their plans.
Take it away and give it to Jesus!
I don’t have much time left in this place!
He screams out to me above the thunder!
I don’t have much time left in this place!
My Lord, he has summoned me!
It is sounded by the trumpet in my spirit!
Listen to “Steal Away” on Spotify » Here’s a song that was a favorite of Harriet Tubman’s while she was growing up.
What do you think other people would have thought if they had heard it?
Swing low, dear chariot, for I’m on my way to be carried home.
Coming to pick me up and take me home, A swarm of angels is chasing behind me, preparing to take me back to heaven.
Inform everyone of my pals that I will be attending as well. I will be arriving in order to transport me home. The audio element cannot be played because your browser does not support it. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot » is a song to listen to.
Signal and Map Songs of the Underground Railroad
Connie Morrison contributes to this article. This evening, the Mary N. Smith Alumni Association, the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, and local African Methodist Episcopal church choirs will collaborate to offer “A Celebration of Negro Spirituals,” a presentation inspired by a Black History Month concert held at Ker Place in 2017. The spirituals that slaves used as signal and map songs to direct their voyages along the Underground Railroad will be explored by AME choirs and soloists this weekend.
- “We had a lot of fun with it.” A senior citizen in the audience was moved to tears when she spontaneously rose to her feet at the conclusion of the event and began singing an ancient hymn a cappella.
- Alumnae association representative Karen Downing said this particular event was exactly the kind of activity that was envisioned when the Mary N.
- “In the future, we hope to be a good neighbor and to collaborate with other groups,” said the company.
- “Our pastor, Rev.
- “We are thrilled to be a part of this event,” she expressed her excitement.
- It is critical to raise awareness of Black History Month and the struggles, accomplishments, and narratives of all elements of that history, including the songs and messages connected with them as slaves sojourning to freedom,” says the organizer.
- He was a member of the event’s planning committee and was in charge of coordinating the involvement of AME churches in the surrounding region.
As he explained, “the singing of spirituals and signal songs has an unique place in the heart of the AME Church.” We were formed in 1787 by Richard Allen, and the denomination was created by the Free African Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, thus the Underground Railroad had a significant role in not just our history as a people, but also in our Christian faith.” This is maybe what some would refer to as a ‘full-circle moment!'” Those who worked on putting up the program were lauded by Hartnett Wilson: “my staff, Amy Savona, Stephanie Templin, and Stacey Gardner; as well as Decola Johnson, Douglas Strand, and Karen Downing, who completed the committee,” she added.
- “Amy and Stephanie studied the spirituals, while Douglas, Decola, and Karen orchestrated the choirs and soloists,” says Karen.
- “In these troubled times, any opportunity to spread inspiration and understanding is a gain for everyone.” The specifics are as follows: This evening (Friday, February 15), from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., will be held in the gymnasium of the Mary N.
- Smith Rd., Accomac (map).
- Only cash or check will be accepted as payment.
The proceeds will be split between the Historical Society and the Mary N. Smith Cultural Enrichment Center, both of which are charitable organizations. For additional information, contact the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society at 757-787-8012, or visit their Facebook page.
Spirituals and Songs
For slaves, freedom was found in the North. North, on the other hand, was a difficult concept for many. Everyone understood that moss thrived on the trees’ northern sides, and some had even seen the birds and realized that they were migrating north for the summer. The most prevalent method of determining North, on the other hand, was to locate the North star. The North Star is a fixed point in space that always points north. Following the “drinking gourd” is the quickest and most direct method of locating the North Star.
When the slaves were laboring in the fields, they would often sing a song in which the “drinking gourd” was utilized as a prop.
Freedom was found in the North for slaves. North, on the other hand, was a difficult concept for many people to grasp. Everyone understood that moss thrived on the trees’ northern sides, and some had even witnessed the birds and noted that they were migrating north for the summer. The North star, on the other hand, was the most prevalent method of determining North. The North Star is a fixed point in the sky that points north at all times. Following the “drinking gourd” is the most direct route to the North Star.
When the slaves were laboring in the fields, they would often sing a song in which the “drinking gourd” was utilized as a refrain.
Slave Code Songs
Songs from the Slave Code Adobe PDF What You Should Know Time commitment: 5 hours of teaching time is required. Areas of Interest 7th Grade American HistoryExpansion and Reform in the United States, 1800-1860 Common Core Standards are addressed in the following ways: Grades 6-12 Writing Standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies Barbara Bacon is a published author (2004) Lesson to be Learned Introduction This lesson is part of a unit on slavery, which you can read more about here. It can be included after the slave resistance and the introduction of the Underground Railroad have been covered.
In order to introduce this subject, I would have played the video The Sellin’ of Jamie Thomas, which tells the story of a runaway slave family’s escape from slavery via the Underground Railroad (appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students).
As an added bonus, I’d want to tie this lesson together with an art exercise that explores the possibilities of hidden meanings in slave quilts. Questionnaires to Use as a Guide
|What three water bodies were escape routes to Canada, free states, and slave states?|
|How can song lyrics contain hidden meaning?Why would singers not want everyone to know the meanings of the lyrics?|
Objectives for Learning
|The student understands historical chronology and the historical perspective.|
|The student understands U. S. history to 1880.|
|The student understands the interactions of people and the physical environment.|
Instructions for Preparation Make several copies of the worksheet “THINKING ABOUT A SONG.” Copy of the star chart from the film The Sellin’ of Jamie Thomas, which contains the Big DipperAtlas of the United States including political and physical maps of the United States The following songs were utilized in this lesson: “Follow the Drinking Gourd” “O Canaan” “Wade in the Water” “Steal Away” “Follow the Drinking Gourd” Procedures for Lesson Activities:
|Read aloud Velma Maia Thomas’ powerful definition of spiritual from her book,No Man Can Hinder Me, page 12.|
|Assign a write-pair-share activity:|
|Write about a childhood experience that involved secrecy or communicating in code.|
|Describe methods used, objectives (conceal or reveal?), materials necessary (signals, symbols, code words, etc.).|
|Share this assignment with a classmate.|
|Present the following ideas through a class discussion or lecture:|
|Codes and signals are useful in real life (military and government, computer abbreviations that teens know and parents don’t, etc.).|
|Throughout time, poetry and songs have been a means of conveying hidden ideas (nursery rhymes with political references, “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” etc.).|
|Songs have power through their words, meaning and/or melody and music. (At this point, ask students to think or free write about a song that has a message or particular meaning in their own life.)|
|Spirituals (religious songs that convey a strong belief in God and heaven) were the songs that communicated powerful feelings and meaning for slaves.|
|While the need for secrecy and the oral tradition of slave songs severely limit the amount of information available in slave code songs, we can glean some details about hidden messages in a few spirituals.|
|The most well-known slave code song is “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” Explain that lesser known spirituals also conveyed hidden messages to slaves. We will examine three of these, as well as revisit “Following the Drinking Gourd,” in the following activities.|
Instructions for Preparing the Dish “THINKING ABOUT A SONG” worksheet should be printed out. Copy of the star chart from the film The Sellin’ of Jamie Thomas, which contains the Big DipperAtlas of the United States including political and physical maps of the country In this lesson, the following songs were played: The phrases “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” “O Canaan,” “Wade in the Water,” and “Steal Away” are all variations on the theme of following the drinking gourd. Procedure for the Lesson Activities:
|Have pairs or triads brainstorm a written list of today’s popular songs that have hidden messages and then share the list with the class.|
|Elicit the idea that songs of all eras have meaning that is sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden.|
Directions for Preparation Make several copies of the worksheet titled “THINKING ABOUT A SONG.” A reproduction of the star chart from the film The Sellin’ of Jamie Thomas, which features the Big Dipper and an atlas of political and physical maps of the United States of America The following songs were played during this lesson: “Follow the Drinking Gourd” “O Canaan” “Wade in the Water” “Steal Away” are all phrases that come to mind. Procedure for Lesson Activities:
|the Mason Dixon Line|
These locations should be labeled on a map of the United States’ outline. Students should also utilize color or shading to distinguish between slave states and free states, as well as between the two. Activity No. 3 (30 minutes) Many children have been exposed to this song and the narrative of Harriet Tubman since they were in the first few years of elementary school. This activity is intended to serve as a review. There are a plethora of lesson plans available on the internet for this specific song.
|Distribute the words to “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”|
|Have a star chart available. Ask students to locate the Big Dipper. Review the significance of the hidden messages, as needed. Refer to the locations on the map that are thought to be part of the hidden messages in this spiritual.|
|Divide students into pairs or triads and distribute the THINKING ABOUT A SONG worksheet (in Resources).Have students discuss the questions and write their ideas.|
|Share with the class in a group discussion.|
|Play the song before or after the worksheet activity and have students sing along. (Harris,Music of the Underground Railroad.)|
Activity No. 4 (60 minutes)
|Review biographical details about Frederick Douglass (from textbook, website, etc.).|
|Distribute the passage from Frederick Douglass’s Autobiography, which is his comment on singing among slaves. Ask students to read silently and then briefly react in writing or orally.|
|Read aloud Frederick Douglass’s words about his escape. (Preview this first to decide on the appropriate length.)|
|Distribute the words to “O Canaan.” If it’s possible to find a recording, play it for students as they read the words.|
|Use the questions from the THINKING ABOUT A SONG worksheet (in Resources) to generate a class discussion.|
Physical activity number five (40 – 50 minutes)
|Assign a brief essay (100 words): “Describe a time when you were scared. What in particular were you most afraid of before the experience? After the experience, did it seem that your earlier thoughts and fears were worse than the experience itself? Why or why not?”|
|Discuss which physical features (landforms and water bodies) have advantages and disadvantages to someone fleeing from danger. Why would a river or water body be important to someone who is fleeing? What fears might be real or imagined when a fugitive has to face challenging physical features?|
|Distribute the words to both versions of “Wade in the Water.” Play the music and have students sing along. (“African American Spirituals”)|
|Discuss what the words and ideas in both versions might convey to a fugitive slave.|
|Have students illustrate an aspect of the hidden message in this song. A caption should be included on their drawing to explain its meaning.|
Athlete Activity V (40 – 50 minutes):
|Distribute the words to “Steal Away.”Play the song and have students sing along. (“African American Spirituals”)|
|What is the meaning of steal in this spiritual? What metaphors are used? What could the thunder, trumpet and green trees stand for? Why is the sinner trembling?|
Activity No. 7 (Evaluation) (20 minutes) For usage in conjunction with the film The Sellin’ of Jamie Thomas.
|Write a brief essay (approximately 100 words): What songs do you think might have inspired Jamie Thomas and his parents? Consider the period before they began their Underground Railroad experience as well as the flight itself. Support your ideas with clear reasoning.|
Activity number eight (40 minutes)
|Elicit ideas about situations in today’s world where a coded song might be useful or necessary. Photocopy and share a news article about a current event with which students are familiar (e.g., the war on terror in Afghanistan, Guantanamo detainees, hostages in Iraq).|
|Discuss what type of song and what words/phrases might be used to convey hidden meaning about the situation described in the news article.|
|Assign one of the slave code songs in this lesson for the following writing assignment:|
|Using the assigned slave song, write new lyrics that relate to the current situation of the news article. Include a paragraph explanation of what your lyrics’ codes and meanings are. Be prepared to share in class.|
Activity Number Nine (Activity IX) (40 minutes) Consider the following scenario: you are a conductor of the Underground Railroad and you want to send a coded message to slaves you want to assist in their escape to Canada. Create two or three lines to a well-known song that will serve as a warning to the fugitives. A simple music, such as “Row, Row, Row your Boat,” “Lullaby and Good Night,” and so on, might be used. Consider the words you use carefully. When you’re writing your composition, think about integrating recognized local landmarks.
- Note to the teacher: It could be beneficial to have the students come up with a list of well-known, slow songs that they might utilize for this exercise before the activity begins.
- What does it look like this song is trying to say?
- Which words, in your opinion, may have included hidden meanings or references?
- In what location do you envision this song being sung?
In what situations do you mean? Describe two different probable scenarios in detail. a.b. 4. What do you imagine this music would sound like to someone who hasn’t heard it before? 5. What was it about this song that made it a successful coded song?
Follow the drinking gourd, Follow the drinking gourd,For the old man is waiting for you to be carried to freedom by the drinking gourd. If you go the path of the drinking gourd. When the light returns and the first quail calls, follow the drinking gourd to the watering hole. Because the elderly guy is ready to pick you up and take you to freedom. If you go the path of the drinking gourd. The riverside will become an excellent road in the future. The dead trees point you in the right direction.
The river comes to an end between two hills, and you should follow the drinking gourd.
Follow the drinking gourd to the point where the huge large river joins the tiny river.
You must follow the drinking gourd, you must follow the drinking gourd, for the old man is waiting to take you to your freedom. The drinking gourd is a good place to start your journey. When the light returns and the first quail calls, follow the drinking gourd to the water source. Because the elderly guy is ready to pick you up and take you to your destination of liberation. The drinking gourd is a good place to start your journey. The riverside will serve as an excellent route in the future if it is properly maintained.
Following the drinking gourd with the left foot, peg foot, and on.
If you follow the drinking gourd, you’ll come upon an additional river.
If you follow the drinking gourd, the old guy will be ready to take you to freedom.
“Wade in the Water”
The lyrics to this particular song appear to be quite elusive, which is most likely owing to the oral tradition of spirituals in which it was written. a)Chorus:Wade in the water, wade in the water, children, Wade in the water, God’s gon’ trouble the water. b)Chorus:Wade in the water, children, Wade in th e water, God’s gon’ trouble the water. Verses: What did I see as I peered over Jordan’s shoulder? There’s a swarm of angels chasing after me. There will be pearly gates to welcome me to the celestial realm, where the streets are paved with gold and the gates are adorned with pearls.
- I’ll tell you how the Lord has set me free, and how glad I’ll be when I reach the gates of paradise.
- Swim about in the water.
- If you don’t believe that I’ve been redeemed, God is going to cause turmoil in the sea.
- You understand that chilly water is black and frigid (I know mine) and that God is going to disturb the water.
- (Come on, let’s do it.) wade in the water Wade in the water (for children)Wade in the water (for adults)Wade in the water God is going to cause difficulties with the water.
- Tell all of my friends that I’m coming as well(I know) since God is going to cause difficulties with the flood.
I’m not always on a level plane with the ground. God is going to cause difficulty with the water(I know) God is going to cause trouble with the water Swim about in the water (children) Exert yourself in the water (children) God is going to cause difficulties with the water.
Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus, steal away, sneak away, steal away Sneak away, steal away home, since I don’t have much longer to be here. My Lord has called me, and he has called me by the thunder, and the trumpet has sounded inside my heart. I don’t have much time left in this place. The green trees are bending, and the poor sinner is trembling. The trumpet is playing in my spirit, and I don’t have much time left to be here.
Suggested Meanings of words found in slave songs:
Canaan – the country of Canada
Additional Spirituals Thought to Be Slave Songs:
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” says the narrator. “Nobody understands the devastation I’ve witnessed.” “I have good news for you, Member.” “We Will Be Set Free” “Run as fast as you can to Jesus.”
Spirituals Found in Voices Across Time:
We should all sit down to a meal together, according to page 1.42. “Deep River,” page 4.78; “Go Down, Moses,” page 3.82; “Deep River,” page 4.78
African American Spirituals: The Concert Tradition, Vol. 1. African American Spirituals: The Concert Tradition, Vol. 1. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings was established in 1994 in Washington, D.C. Allen, William Francis; Garrison, Lucy McKim; and Ware, Charles Pickard are three of the most important figures in American history. Slave Songs from the United States of America. The Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., of Baltimore, published this book in 1992. Sarah Bradford is the author of this work.
- Carol Publishing Group, based in New Jersey, published this book in 1961.
- Dobard and Jacqueline L.
- An Untold Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad: A Secret History of Hidden in Plain Sight.
- Frederick Douglass was a famous American author.
- The Harvard University Press published this book in 1967.
- My Obligation and My Liberation Dover Publications, Inc.
- “Rebellions, Resistance, and Runaways Within the Slave South,” edited by Paul Finkelman, is available online.
Fisher, Miles Mark, and others.
The Citadel Press, New York, published this book in 1953.
Films for the Humanities and Sciences, a division of Films for the Humanities and Sciences, was established in 1995 in Princeton, New Jersey.
The Underground Railroad’s music was played on the Underground Railroad.
Monro’s The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad is available online.
Voices Across Time is a book written by Deane L.
Donley, Kathryn Miller Haines, and Mariana S.
University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2004.
Films for the Humanities, Inc., based in Princeton, New Jersey, published the film in 1996.
There is no one who can stand in my way.
New York: Crown Publishers, 2001.
Deep River and the Negro Spirituality Speak of Life and Death in their own languages. Friends United Press (Richmond, Indiana) published this book in 1975. The American Negro Songs and Spirituals, edited by John W. Work. Crown Publishers, New York, published this book in 1940.
A secret network that helped slaves find freedom
It was during the late 18th Century that a network of hidden passageways was established in the United States, which became known as the “Underground Railroad” by the 1840s. The network was designed to be ambiguous, with supporters typically only knowing of a few links between one another. The actual number of enslaved African Americans who were aided by this network to escape and find a path to freedom will always be a mystery, although some estimates place the total as high as 100,000. During his installation, Night Coming Tenderly, Black, photographer Dawoud Bey reimagines landmarks along the slave trade routes that passed through Cleveland and Hudson, Ohio and on their way to Lake Erie and the journey to freedom in Canada.
Influenced by African-American photographer Roy DeCarava, whose work is known for presenting the black subject as it emerges from a darkened photographic print, Bey adopts a similar method to depict the darkness that afforded slaves with safe shelter as they made their way towards freedom.
This provided an opportunity for abolitionists to employ newly developed railroad language as a code.
Some think that Sweet Chariot was written as a direct reference to the Underground Railroad and that it was sung as a signal for slaves to prepare for their own emancipation.
The ability to imagine the sense of space and the environment from the perspective of another person, according to him, represented a significant paradigm change.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘portrait photographer,’ but rather as a photographer who has collaborated with a human subject in order to create my work,” Bey shares.
Throughout her life, she worked as a nurse, a union spy, and a supporter of the suffragette movement.
Following that, she risked her life as a conductor on repeated return voyages in order to save at least 70 people, including her elderly parents and other family members, who had been trapped.
Following its demise, a large number of individuals traveled considerable distances north to British North America (present-day Canada).
“There was one moment while photography on a hill overlooking Lake Erie that was unlike any other I’d had in the year and a half that I was working on the project,” Bey recalls.
At that point, I realized that this was a real location where a large number of fleeing slaves had congregated.” The exhibitionNight Coming Tenderly, Blackby Dawoud Bey is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, in the United States, through April 14, 2019.