Classroom Freedom Quilt - Black History Month Display

February and Black History Month Bulletin Board Idea
Photo Source: lessonswithlaughter.com

The Underground Railroad. As it's name might suggest, this integral part of the freedom movement that helped transport escaped slaves from the Southern States to the North, was neither underground nor a set of physical train tracks. It was, in fact, a network of people - other slaves, free blacks, and white abolitionists - that risked their lives, resources, and freedom to aid slaves in search of a new life. Secrecy was key for all involved and there were many risks, as well as barriers, to contend with. One obstacle - and not even the most perilous - was the literacy barrier.

Because it was against the law to teach a slave to read or write, those involved in the Underground Railroad had to create codes that would transcend the literacy barrier. Memorized symbols, spirituals, code phrases/words, etc. offered a means of communication between slaves and those who worked to aid them. These codes, unknown to slave owners, provided secrecy and a way to pass messages, warnings, and instructions. Many historians believe that these codes were hidden in quilts, a common household item that would not draw attention, and today call them freedom quilts because of their role in helping many escape the bonds of slavery.

Freedom Quilts

We love this display created by Molly and her students over at Lessons with Laughter. After reading Deborah Hopkinson's Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, as well as several other selections about the Underground Railroad, she tasked her students with creating squares for their own classroom freedom quilt - using torn bits of constructions paper to shape the message. We think this is a wonderful, hands-on way to help your students make a connection with history!

Classroom Freedom Quilt

  • Background: Black bulletin board paper.
  • Title: "Our Freedom Quilt!"
  • Border: Complimentary patterned trimmer or Black History Month border.
  • Decoration: Arrange your students' quilt squares on the board, spacing them equally on the display and using the black background paper as a natural 'border' for the pieces.

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