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.

Shackled Legacy: Universities and the Slave Trade

A growing number of colleges and universities in the eastern United States are confronting their historic ties to the slave trade. Profits from slavery and related industries helped build some of the most prestigious schools in New England. In many Southern states, enslaved people built and maintained college campuses. This documentary focuses on three universities — Harvard, Georgetown and the University of Virginia — as they grapple with a deeply troubling chapter in their vaunted histories. At the crux of the story is the question of how these institutions might make amends for the ways they participated in American slavery and the moral, political and practical issues under-riding that question.