Lesson Plan

Understand African American Spirituals

Spirituals have a long history in the United States, and often serve to strengthen and motivate people. Students will compare three types of spirituals from different time periods and share their understanding with their peers.
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Learning Objectives

Students will be able to compare three different styles of African American spirituals.


(5 minutes)
Underground Railroad: Songs of FreedomThe History of African American Spirituals
  • Play aloud a clip or two of different examples of African American spirituals. See the Suggested resources section, or refer to The History of African American Spirituals worksheet for song title ideas.
  • Ask students if the songs are familiar, if they understand who is singing, or if they wonder anything about the songs. Record their ideas on the board.
  • Explain that African American spirituals are religious songs that relate to the experience of enslaved African Americans in the United States.