The Haitian Revolution explores the development of the American colonial world and one of the greatest wealth-producing colonies in world history. Students consider the different groups involved in the conflict, draw connections between events in Europe and the Americas, and reflect on the legacies of one of the most successful revolts of enslaved people in the history of the world.
In this lesson, students will:
- Explore the relationship between history and popular culture.
- Analyze the attitudes expressed in literature and art.
- Consider the role of the Haitian Revolution in Haiti today.
This lesson is designed to be used after students have read Part III of the student text of The Haitian Revolution.
Short, free videos for use with this lesson are available here.
Note: You should preview the painting used in this lesson to be sure it is appropriate for your classroom.
In the Classroom
- Considering History Today—Have students consider the important events in their country’s history that are commemorated today. List three or four on the board. How do people today think about those events? What kinds of values or lessons are taken from those experiences? Do students think that people at the time thought about those events differently? How might the significance or understanding of an historical event depend on the circumstances of the present? You may want to focus discussion on one or two key events in order to press students to deepen their thinking.
- Analyzing Contemporary Haitian Art and Literature—Distribute “Expressing the Revolution Today” to each student, and divide the class into groups of three-four. Have students recall what they know about Haiti today. What are some challenges that exist? In what ways do legacies of French colonialism and the Haitian Revolution affect Haiti today? You may want to show your class the following Choices videos:
“How did the Haitian Revolution affect land ownership in Haiti?” and “What were the major legacies of the Haitian Revolution for Haiti?” answered by Alex Dupuy, professor of sociology at Wesleyan University. Tell students that they will examine a variety of sources and consider how some Haitians think about the Haitian Revolution today. Have students carefully consider the sources on the handout and work with their groups to answer the questions.
- Making Connections—After small groups have completed the questions, have everyone come together in a large group. Call on groups to share their responses to the questions. What attitudes were expressed in different selections? What were the key phrases or elements of each source that indicated the tone? What conclusions can students draw about how some Haitians think about the Revolution today? In what ways is the Revolution still important to Haiti today? Have students consider how history can shape a nation and affect how people think about their place in the world. You may want to show your class the following Choices video: “How do people in Haiti think about the Revolution today?” answered by Alex Dupuy, professor of sociology at Wesleyan University.