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Activity Overview


Researching real people helps students to gain a more concrete and compassionate understanding of the culture, lives, and diverse perspectives of people who were enslaved in America and people who worked to end slavery. Giving students the perspective of those who lived during a time period helps them go beyond simply memorizing dates and names to acquire a more substantial, empathetic, and realistic view of the period.

In this activity, students will create a mini graphic novel biography of a person who lived during the time of slavery in America. This narrative storyboard will describe the important events that helped shape this person’s life in the format of a mini comic book or graphic novel.

Teachers can assign students specific people or give students a choice on who they would like to research. In each cell, students will create a scene from their person’s life using images and text. The biographies should explain the major events and accomplishments that helped shape the life and legacy of the person that they chose.

These mini biographies can be printed out, laminated and added to the classroom library. Students can also present their biographies to their classmates, sharing their knowledge about their person. Thus combining research, writing, and public speaking skills into one powerful assignment.

Important People in the History of Slavery

  • Crispus Attucks (1723-1770)
  • Elizabeth Freeman (1742–1829)
  • Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797)
  • Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
  • Richard Allen (1760-1831)
  • Ona Judge (1773-1848)
  • Mary Prince (1788‐​1833)
  • John Rankin (1793 – 1886)
  • Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
  • John Brown (1800-1859)
  • Maria W. Stewart (1803–1879)
  • William Lloyd Garrison (1805 – 1879)
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
  • Henry “Box” Brown (1815-1897)
  • Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
  • Harriet Tubman (1820(?) - 1913)
  • Sarah Parker Remond (1824–1894)
  • Ellen Craft (1826–1891)
  • Robert Smalls (1839-1915)
  • Susie King Taylor (1848-1912)
  • Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)
Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 4-6

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/3] Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/1] Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/CCRA/R/7] Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • [ELA-LITERACY/WHST/6-8/2/B] Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Due Date:

Objective: Research a famous or notable person that relates to the period of slavery in America such as an enslaved person or an abolitionist. Create a mini biography of their life in the form of a narrative storyboard that highlights important events in their life and accomplishments.

Student Instructions:

  1. Choose a person.
  2. Using school resources, conduct some research and learn more about your chosen person.
  3. In a narrative storyboard of about 4-8 cells create a mini illustrated biography. Include your person’s name and dates of birth and death. Add scenes with captions to describe the different important events and accomplishments throughout your person’s life.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard.

Requirements: Person’s image, name, dates of birth/death, 4-8 important events and/or accomplishments depicted with appropriate scenes, characters and items with descriptive captions.



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