As students engage in the inquiry, they determine: What is the inclusive story of the founding of our nation? This compelling question requires students to grapple with the revolutionary and discriminatory aspects of our country’s foundation, and the reality that history can be romanticized or distorted to promote a story.
During this inquiry, students also examine the social construct of race and racism and their influence on the acceptance of slavery and discrimination against free African Americans during the colonial era. Finally, students are empowered to generate change by impacting how young people are introduced to the story of our nation’s founding documents. Students will engage in social justice work by challenging normative thought regarding our nation’s founding documents. Students will consider the voices of those who were overlooked and disregarded as the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were written and consider the lasting impact of this action.
This inquiry embodies the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center principles of courage and perseverance. When challenging a “stock story” and broadening people’s understanding, they will learn that it takes courage to critique tightly held believes and perseverance to make a lasting impact on those beliefs.
We encourage teachers and students to visit our museum and further explore how slavery evolved during the colonial and Revolutionary War eras. Students will learn that our founding principles – “Laws of Nature”… “truths”… “all men are created equal”… “unalienable rights”… “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” – and others like it were entrenched in the Underground Railroad and Abolitionist Movement long before the Declaration of Independence. Freedom Seekers, Conductors and Abolitionists stood on the foundation and principles of freedom to fight against the institution of slavery. Students will learn about the diversity of this country and how diverse groups can work together towards a common goal.