African Americans in the Revolutionary War Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson will help your students understand the role that African Americans played in the Revolutionary War. Students will read a text lesson and then participate in group activities that will help them find out more.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Compare the treatment of Black people in the Northern, Middle, and Southern colonies
  • Describe the differences between military service based on race during the Revolutionary War
  • Discuss contributions to the war effort by African American soldiers and laborers


This lesson will take 45-90 minutes. The optional extension activity can take up to an additional 60 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Materials Needed

  • Pictures of African American Revolutionary War heroes
  • Video clip about African American soldiers in the Revolutionary War
  • Index cards prepared (See station 3)


  • Agrarian
  • Commerce
  • Militia
  • Regiment
  • Tories


Ask students what they have been told about the Revolutionary War. Then ask students what they know about African Americans in early America. Have students predict what roles African Americans may have played in the Revolutionary War.

Provide students copies of the text lesson Slaves & Free Blacks in the Revolutionary War. Read as a class. Pause after the ''Laws Regarding Free Blacks and Slaves as Soldiers'' section.

Have students complete a five-minute quick write: What might have happened if George Washington had not changed his mind about Blacks serving in the army?

Discuss student responses.

Read the ''Slaves and Free Blacks' Contributions to the American Colonies'' portion of the lesson.

Create a three-column chart. Label the columns: Northern colonies, Middle colonies, and Southern colonies. Have students generate a bulleted list that differentiates between the attitudes and reasons behind their opinions on whether or not African Americans should serve in the military.

Read the remainder of the text lesson.

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.


Divide the room into four stations and put your students into four groups. Students will rotate through these stations at 15-20 minute intervals.

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