International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition Lesson Plan

Share the importance of the remembrance of the abolition of the slave trade with your students. Bring classrooms to life with MY HERO's Multimedia Resources and Lesson Plan for Teachers. Includes discussion guide and learning outcome.

Credit: Unknown Artist [Public Domain] Wikimedia Commons


August 23 was designated by UNESCO to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade.

"The date [of August 23] is significant because, during the night of August 22 to August 23, 1791, on the island of Saint Domingue (now known as Haiti), an uprising began which set forth events which were a major factor in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade." 

Watch this interview with Dread Scott, a revolutionary artist who works to propel history forward with his art, as he discusses his Slave Reenactment Project. Dread Scott's aim is to provide a new way to look at history and relate history to the present. In this case, the reenactment is of the largest rebellion of enslaved people in the US which took place in Louisiana in 1811.  

Dread Scott on the Slave Rebellion Reenactment

Eva Haller

Discussion Questions

1.   Why is it important for people to learn about this rebellion of enslaved people in the US which took place in Louisiana in 1811?  

2. How does the rebellion of enslaved people relate to present day?  



Read the following stories about early abolitionists from England, Sierra Leone and France to learn more about the global fight against slavery. Then read four stories about black abolitionists from the 1800s and consider the discussion questions and activities.

William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

By: Nathan from Kunming, China

William Wilberforce was a leader of the English abolitionist movement that fought for the abolition of slavery until the passage of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.

Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846)

By: Staff Writer

Thomas Clarkson devoted his life to abolishing the slave trade and saw the passage of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 and Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793)

By: Danny from Boca Raton

Olympe de Gouges was a French playwright, feminist and abolitionist. She was an outspoken critic of the slave trade in the French colonies.

Granville Sharp the Abolitionist Rescuing a Slave from the Hands of His Master (1864)

By: James Hayllar

Granville Sharp came up with the plan to to resettle freed slaves in Sierra Leone in the mid-1780s. In 1787, he and Thomas Clarkson founded the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Frances Ellen Watkins (1825-1911)

By: Geeta Malik

Frances Ellen Watkins was a prolific author and poet who devoted her life to speaking out against slavery.

Mary Richards Bowser (1846–1867)

By: Jane Wallace

An abolitionist and Union supporter, Mary Richards Bowser became a black spy in the Confederate White House of Jefferson Davis.

From Slavery to Speeches: Frederick Douglass

By: Sean Rollins

Frederick Douglass had a remarkable life: he was born into slavery but became a statesman. He was a powerful advocate for the Abolitionist and Suffragist movement.

Sojourner Truth

By: Libby Schwalbach

Sojourner Truth was a an abolitionist and women's rights activist who is known for her speech "Ain't I a Woman," delivered to the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.

Discussion Questions 

1. William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Olympe de Gouges, Granville Sharp, and Thomas Clarkson were early abolitionists. Research early abolitionists. What obstacles did they face trying to end slavery? Were they successful?  

2. Research the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.   

3. Sojourner Truth and Frances Ellen Walkins were advocates for women's rights as well as antislavery. Research other advocates for both women's rights and antislavery. Who inspires you? Share her or his story with MY HERO

4. Slavery still persists. Research this issue. Who is working to end slavery in today's world? Share his or her story with MY HERO.


Analyze this piece of art, Doorway to Freedom, that represents the House of Slaves in the Island of Goree in Africa. Make sure to read the artist's description of his art, what he is representing and the symbolism he is using. 

Create a piece of art using symbolism to tell a story and honors a time in history. Include a paragraph explaining your art and the symbolism used. 


Doorway to Freedom

By: Cheikh Seck from Senegal

This is the House of Slaves in the Island of Goree (in Africa), where slaves used to be kept before being shipped overseas.

Analyze these portraits by Robert Shetterly. Pay close attention to the words he used in each painting.

Robert Shetterly created the Amricans Who Tell the Truth portrait project and painted Sojourner Truth as part of his 200+ oil paintings.

Sojourner Truth
Credit: Robert Shetterly

Harriet Tubman's portrait by Robert Shetterly depicts her as a formidable opponent of slavery and an advocate to protect the enslaved.

Harriet Tubman
Credit: Robert Shetterly

Frederick Douglass is celebrated for his strength, courage and intelligence, in this portrait by Robert Shetterly.

Frederick Douglass
Credit: Robert Shetterly

Who is your hero who has fought for freedom and equal rights? Create a piece of art honoring your hero that includes a quote.

MY HERO recommends students watch the films below and consider the discussion questions.

Remembering History: EJI's Legacy Museum & National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Produced by:MY HERO

MY HERO Reporter Trey Carlisle reports on the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative's Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. (5:36 minutes)

The Equal Justice Initiative

Gabriel Diamond

Film: Bryan Stevenson and Equal Justice Initiative litigate cases for the unjustly imprisoned and work to reform the justice system. (4:47 minutes)

Discussion Questions

1. The Legacy Museum explores America's history of racial inequality and its connection to contemporary issues. Identify issues of racial inequality in today's world. 

2. Do you know someone who is working to end racial inequality? Share his or her story with MY HERO. 

3. What social justice issue is important to you? What can you do? Create an action plan and share your story with MY HERO.  


Audio to Enrich Learning and Understanding

The Emancipation Proclamation

A dramatic reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, which paved the way for the abolishment of slavery and served as a rallying point in the midst of the Civil War.

Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN

A reading from Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

The song become one of the best known African American spirituals. It has been recorded by Paul Robeson to Johnny Cash, from Fats Waller to Eric Clapton.

Learning Outcomes 

Students will deepen their research and critical thinking skills. They will evaluate current issues of racial injustice. Students have the opportunity to create an action plan to work on a social justice issue important to them.  


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Laura Nietzer

The International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade lesson plan was created by MY HERO Education Outreach Director Laura Nietzer.

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Links to Related Resources 

Quakers in the World
Credit: Quakers in the World
History of Slavery: Liverpool Museum, UK
Credit: Liverpool Museum
Canadian Museum of History
Credit: Canadian Museum of History

Related Pages

UNESCO International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
Credit: UNESCO

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Organizer created on 7/8/2019 7:13:21 AM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 8/8/2023 10:27:15 AM by Laura Nietzer