Hidden Messages in Spirituals

This Hidden Messages in Spirituals lesson plan also includes:

New Review

Slaves laboring in the cotton fields of the old South singing joyously may have convinced overseers that their workforce was happy and content, but in truth, these spirituals contained secret codes. After viewing a short video about these hidden messages, class members decode the lyrics from a famous spiritual and then craft one of their own.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Extend the lesson by asking class members to research the lyrics of other spirituals and present their findings to the class
  • Include the lesson in a study of the American Civil War or the Civil Rights Movement
Classroom Considerations

  • The Underground Railroad: The William Still Story DVD is available for purchase
  • The referenced segment from the PBS video, available for free on the Internet, focuses on the hidden messages in the spirituals

  • Class members can choose to read or sing their spiritual
  • Includes worksheets and an answer key

  • None
Common Core