The Lion's Side: Creating a Resistance Newspaper

Brandon T. Kowalski
The Lion's Side: Creating a Resistance Newspaper
The Lion's Side: Creating a Resistance Newspaper
presented by Ahmariah Jackson

Suitable for History, Language Arts & Creative Writing Classes
Adaptable for Grades 6-12


Danger of a Single Story Ted Talk

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks on the impact of stories on our perceptions of self, especially to students.

“Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.”
— J. Nozipo Maraire

It is said that history is written by the victors; however, who are the victors and why are they victorious? In discussing American slavery, to presume the enslaved to be the conquered and the enslavers to be victors is antithetical to anything that resembles humanity. In discussing the institution of slavery, freedom is attributed to the North winning the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. However, many enslaved individuals took very real risks and opposed draconian laws to secure their personal liberation and that of their loved ones.

Runaway ads offered rewards to return liberated enslaved individuals back into bondage. This process served to demonize their struggle for liberation. It also resulted in many free individuals being captured and enslaved.

Objectives / Student Goals

  • Analyze components of runaway ads
  • Identify propaganda in political imagery
  • Re-envision runaway ads to reflect the bravery of the enslaved who liberated themselves
  • Construct creative narratives from the perspective of formerly enslaved individuals


Focus Question

In which ways does the fight for liberation reflect the ideals upon which America was founded? In which ways can reimagined liberation ads aid in a compassionate and progressive analysis of American slavery?

Essential Vocabulary

  • Enslaved
  • Enslavers
  • Liberation
  • Propaganda
  • Rhetoric
  • Pathos

Opening Activity (Annotation and Analysis)

Students will explore the Freedom on the Move database of runaway ads, looking for one that grabs their attention. Ask students to consider specific details that may help them connect to the humanity of the person on the ad. Suggestions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bounty price (Why so much or so little?)
  • Family (Did they leave family behind? Are they married?)
  • Physical ailments/powers (Have they been injured? Are their strengths listed?)
  • Skills (What talents are listed?)

Guided Instruction

Teacher will guide students as they use the “collaborate” function to annotate and answer specific questions about the ad. (This step aids in accuracy and identifying repeated ads. It also serves to help students recognize details to help them further analyze the life of the enslaved. Hopefully, it will also create a personal connection between the student and the person they are studying.)

Independent Practice

Students will rework chosen runaway ads into liberation ads to celebrate the bravery of the enslaved who insisted upon liberation. This task allows students to use details from the previous activity to shape understanding and promote compassion. Ideas might include these:

  • Offering a reward for anyone who assists with liberation
  • Advertising safe havens (abolitionists and Underground Railroad)
  • Celebratory announcements from their new community

Collaborative Practice

Allow students to peer edit each other’s ads, providing positive feedback and suggestions. (Rubrics aren’t suggested, as students are allowed to use their creativity for this activity.)

Students will then use a newspaper template to organize their ads into a resistance newspaper.

Closing Activity

Class will explore resistance newspaper, with each student highlighting their respective ad.

Extension Activity


Students will create a narrative of the formerly enslaved person using poetry, rap, visual art or short story.

Teacher will guide students to use all information derived from previous activities to tell the story of the newly liberated person. Suggestions include these:

  • A short story on how they achieved liberation
  • A rap about their new life
  • An artistic representation of a reunited family
  • A poem that celebrates the value of freedom

Teachers Note

Please remind students that perfection is not expected from this assignment. The definitive goal should be a personal exploration of slavery and an even more personal celebration of liberation.

This lesson aligns to key concepts 4, 5, 6 and 10 of Teaching Tolerance’s Teaching Hard History Framework.