Hear Here! | Singing to Freedom: Slave Songs and the Underground Railroad


Many of us know and love traditional spirituals like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot or Wade in the Water. But a lesser known aspect is that many of these songs served as coded messages for the Underground Railroad. We’ll explore the connection between slavery and the songs that slaves sang on their way to freedom. (Producer: Crystal Sarakas)

Classroom Resources

No Man Can Hinder Me: The Journey From Slavery to Emancipation Through Song by Velma Maia Thomas

‘Coded Spirituals’ | A full teacher resource gallery from PBS LearningMedia.

Follow the Drinking Gourd | This book, song video, and Reading Rainbow episode offer kids.

Harriet Tubman Historical Society | Songs and lyrics with interpretation of coded meaning.

Underground Railroad: The William Still Story | Lesson plan and media about the hidden messages in spirituals.