Boost Your Classroom Discussions with These 8th Grade Slavery Journal Prompts

As adults, we all know that slavery is a horrific and deeply troubling chapter in our history. However, how do we help young people understand and grapple with the complexities of this topic? One possible solution is through the use of 8th grade slavery journal prompts. These prompts can help students connect with the experiences of those who were enslaved, think critically about the role of slavery in our nation’s past, and explore contemporary issues related to race and inequality.

Moreover, journal prompts offer a unique and impactful way to foster empathy and understanding. By guiding students to imagine themselves in the shoes of enslaved individuals, these prompts challenge them to confront their own biases and preconceptions. They have the power to spark meaningful conversations and cultivate the kind of critical thinking skills that are crucial both in and out of the classroom.

Overall, there are countless reasons why teachers and parents alike should consider incorporating 8th grade slavery journal prompts into their educational toolbox. Whether you’re looking for a way to supplement your child’s history curriculum or hoping to start important conversations within your community, these prompts can serve as a powerful starting point. By elevating voices that have long been silenced, we can work towards building a more inclusive and just world for all.

African American history

Slavery is a dark chapter in American history, and it is essential to explore the history of slavery to help students understand the struggles and oppression African Americans had to endure. One way to examine this topic is through journal prompts. Journaling can help students process their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and prompts can provide inspiration for writing.

  • What would it be like to be separated from your family and sold into slavery?
  • What thoughts would go through your mind if you were forced to work in a field all day long?
  • What would you do if you were not allowed to learn how to read or write?
  • How would you feel if you were whipped or beaten because you did not work hard enough?
  • What hopes and dreams would you have for your future if you were a slave?
  • What would you do to escape from slavery?
  • How would you react if you were freed from slavery?
  • What do you think it would be like to have a family member sold away from you?
  • What impact do you think slavery had on African American families?
  • What do you think the Underground Railroad was like?
  • What would you do if you were a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to freedom?
  • What were some of the challenges and dangers faced by people escaping slavery?
  • How do you think former slaves felt about their new freedom?
  • What was life like for African Americans during the Reconstruction era?
  • What do you think African Americans were hoping for during the Civil Rights Movement?
  • What change do you believe still needs to be made to achieve true equality in America?

These prompts are just a starting point to encourage thoughtful reflection and learning about African American history. By examining the past, we can better understand the present and work towards a more just future.

It is vital for educators to ensure their students grasp the concept of slavery and what it meant for African Americans and the country as a whole. By focusing on prompts related to African American history, educators can help students gain a more in-depth understanding of the topic while also promoting empathy, growth, and perspective-taking.

Civil Rights Movement

During the 1960s, the United States saw a major civil rights movement. People were fighting for equal rights for African Americans and other minority groups. The movement led to significant changes in American society, improving the lives of millions of people. One of the most important aspects of the civil rights movement was the use of nonviolent protest. This method was used to draw attention to the issue of segregation, and to push for equality in all areas of life. As a result, people came up with several ideas on how to promote and advance the movement.

  • 1. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, organized by Martin Luther King Jr., was a protest against segregated seating on city buses in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • 2. The Greensboro sit-ins started on February 1, 1960, when four African American college students sat at a “whites-only” lunch counter in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • 3. The Freedom Riders were a group of civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961.
  • 4. The March on Washington was a march held in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. It was attended by more than 200,000 people and was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital at that time.
  • 5. Bloody Sunday occurred on March 7, 1965, when state troopers and local law enforcement attacked nonviolent demonstrators marching for voting rights.
  • 6. Malcolm X, a Muslim minister and prominent civil rights activist, promoted the idea of black self-defense and demanded equal rights for African Americans by any means necessary.
  • 7. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark piece of federal legislation that aimed to eliminate all voting practices that discriminated on the basis of race.
  • 8. Rosa Parks, an African American civil rights activist, became an iconic figure in the civil rights movement after she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to make room for a white passenger.
  • 9. The Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 was a protest march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery, organized in response to the killing of a civil rights activist.
  • 10. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was an organization of college students who undertook civil rights activities under the leadership of Dr. King.
  • 11. Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 1954 that ordered the desegregation of public schools.
  • 12. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was federal legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in public spaces, employment, education, and voting.
  • 13. The Black Panthers were a revolutionary organization founded in 1966 that advocated for the self-defense of African Americans.
  • 14. Stokely Carmichael, a civil rights activist, introduced the idea of “Black Power,” which was a call for black people to take control of their own destinies and fight for their own rights.
  • 15. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founded by Dr. King in 1957, was an organization of civil rights leaders who sought to end segregation and promote integration in American society.

The civil rights movement was a pivotal moment in American history. Many people sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to fight for the rights of everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity. The movement also helped to create new laws and regulations that protect equal rights and opportunities for all.

It’s important for students to study and understand this period of American history to gain an appreciation for the people and events that helped shape our country today.

American History: 8th Grade Slavery Journal Prompts – Subtopic #3

The American institution of slavery was highly complex and intricate, with a deep history that shaped race relations in the United States for centuries. Many 8th-grade Social Studies curriculums include a unit on slavery, and it can be a challenging and emotional one for students to work through. Therefore, providing journal prompts can aid in students’ understanding, external points of view, and help students process their emotions. Here are fifteen 8th-grade slavery journal prompts that will help students explore American history related to slavery:

  • What was the role of African American slaves in the American economy?
  • What did slaveowners use to justify the institution of slavery to themselves and the greater community?
  • What was the significance of the Underground Railroad, and how did it play a part in the struggle for freedom?
  • How did the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 contribute to sectional tensions and the outbreak of the Civil War?
  • What do you think were the most significant freedom fighters during the abolitionist movement, and why?
  • What were the differences between the North and South’s economies and how did they relate to the institution of slavery?
  • What was the role of slave resistance in the history of American slavery?
  • What were the connections between slavery and the development of American identity?
  • Who were some well-known abolitionists, and what did they contribute to the struggle for freedom?
  • How did the experiences of enslaved Africans differ from those of enslaved Native Americans, and why?
  • How did white society enforce the racial hierarchy of slavery, and what were some of the consequences of this enforcement for white people?
  • How were slave marriages and child-rearing affected by the institution of slavery?
  • What was the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, and how did it shape American society after the Civil War?
  • What was the role of the cotton gin in the growth of American slavery, and why was it so important?
  • What were the various paths to freedom for enslaved Africans, and what were some of the challenges that they faced in achieving freedom?

By using these prompts, students can engage with American history on a much deeper level than textbooks and lectures alone can provide. In recording their thoughts, feelings, and ideas, students can make connections between the past and the present while also reflecting on their place in and responsibility toward American society today.

Using journal prompts also helps students develop their writing skills and see the value of documenting their own thoughts and ideas about complex issues. This exercise can ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of American history and help students become more informed and critical thinkers.

Historical Injustice

Slavery has been one of the most barbaric and oppressive acts in human history. It has caused unspeakable suffering and has led to the systematic dehumanization of an entire race. Injustice has been perpetrated against Black Africans in various forms, from being treated as property to being forced to work in brutal and inhumane conditions. One of the ways we can help students understand the impact of slavery is by having them engage with journal prompts that reflect on its historical injustice.

  • How does it feel to know that your ancestors were enslaved?
  • Do you think slavery is still present in modern times? Why or why not?
  • What emotions does the image of a slave auction evoke?
  • What do you think it would be like to be separated from your family and to never see them again?
  • Why do you think some people were in favor of slavery?
  • How do you think it felt for enslaved people to be treated as property?
  • What do you think it would have been like to work on a plantation picking cotton or tobacco?
  • Can you imagine being beaten for not meeting work quotas or for trying to escape slavery?
  • How do you think slave owners justified their treatment of enslaved people?
  • What are some of the ways in which slavery has affected the African American community today?
  • What role do you think education played in the abolition of slavery?
  • Do you think the concept of reparations for slavery is fair or necessary? Why or why not?
  • How have images of slavery in movies/books affected your understanding of this historical injustice?
  • How have enslaved people resisted and fought against their enslavement?
  • What are some similarities between slavery in the US and other forms of slavery throughout history?

Journal prompts can help students reflect on their understanding of historical injustice and connect the past to present-day issues. By thinking deeply about the injustices of slavery, students can develop empathy and understanding for those who have experienced systemic oppression.

It is important to remember that these journal prompts may evoke strong emotions in some students, and teachers should create a safe and supportive space for students to engage with them. By doing so, we can ensure that the lessons of history are not forgotten and that we work towards creating a better, more just future for all.


Racism is prejudice, discrimination, or hostility towards people of different races. It is a complex and ongoing problem that has affected people for centuries. In the context of slavery, racism played a significant role in the mistreatment and exploitation of enslaved people. Through journal prompts, students can explore their thoughts and feelings about racism and how it relates to slavery.

  • How has racism affected the lives of enslaved people?
  • Do you think that racism still exists in modern society?
  • What are some examples of racist attitudes or behaviors that you have witnessed?
  • How can individuals work to combat racism?
  • Do you think that racism is a learned behavior or something that people are born with?
  • Why is it important to acknowledge and address racism?
  • How do you think racism impacts society as a whole?
  • What are some ways that schools can work to eliminate racism?
  • Do you think that racism is a problem that is unique to the United States?
  • Have you ever experienced racism or discrimination? If so, how did it make you feel?
  • How can the media perpetuate racist stereotypes?
  • What is the difference between prejudice and racism?
  • How have historical events such as slavery and segregation contributed to modern-day racism?
  • Are there any positive ways that people can celebrate and appreciate different cultures?
  • What is the impact of racist jokes or comments?

Exploring the complex issue of racism can help students better understand the historical context of slavery and the ongoing impact of racism in our society. Through journal prompts, students can reflect on their own experiences and perspectives, as well as explore the experiences of others. By acknowledging and discussing the realities of racism, we can work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

It is important to note that racism is a sensitive topic and should be approached with care and sensitivity. Teachers should create a safe and respectful environment for students to share their thoughts and feelings. Teachers should also be prepared to address any questions or concerns that may arise during the discussion.

Human Rights

When exploring the topic of slavery with 8th-grade students, it is crucial to discuss the issue of human rights. Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to all people, regardless of their race, gender, nationality, and other factors. Slavery is a direct violation of human rights because it strips human beings of their basic dignities and freedoms.

To help students understand this concept better, below are 15 journal prompts that focus on human rights and slavery. These prompts can encourage students to explore how slavery violates the basic human rights of slaves, how it impacted their lives, and what can be done to protect human rights.

  • How do human rights relate to slavery?
  • What are some of the basic human rights that slaves were denied?
  • How did slavery impact the mental health of slaves?
  • How did slavery impact the physical health of slaves?
  • What were some of the economic factors that allowed slavery to exist?
  • What role did the government have in allowing or prohibiting slavery?
  • What were some of the strategies slaves used to resist slavery and advocate for their rights?
  • What did the abolitionists do to help end slavery?
  • What is your opinion on the idea that slavery is a violation of human rights?
  • Do you think slavery still exists in some form in modern-day society?
  • Can you think of any situations where human rights are being violated today, and what can be done to address them?
  • What can individuals do to protect their human rights?
  • What can society do to protect the human rights of vulnerable groups?
  • What role does education play in promoting human rights?
  • What do you think schools can do to support human rights education?

Encourage your students to think deeply about these prompts and to reflect on how human rights are essential for all people. By discussing these issues, you will help your students to develop a greater understanding of why slavery is a direct violation of human rights and why it is essential to continue advocating for the protection of human rights in all aspects of life.

Politics and Activism

Slavery was a controversial issue in politics during the 8th grade period. Many people were against slavery, while others supported it for economic and social reasons. Activists worked tirelessly to abolish slavery and bring about equal rights for all people, regardless of race. There were many different political and activist movements during this period that aimed to change the laws and attitudes surrounding slavery.

  • The Abolitionist Movement: Activists in this movement sought to abolish slavery completely.
  • The Underground Railroad: This was a network of people who helped slaves escape to freedom in the North.
  • The Free Soil Party: This political party was formed in 1848 and aimed to prevent the expansion of slavery into new territories.
  • The Republican Party: This party was formed in 1854 with the goal of opposing the expansion of slavery.
  • The Dred Scott Case: This was a landmark court case in 1857 which ruled that African Americans were not citizens and had no rights in court.
  • The Emancipation Proclamation: This was an executive order issued by President Lincoln in 1863 which freed slaves in Confederate territory.
  • The 13th Amendment: This amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1865 and abolished slavery throughout the United States.
  • The 14th Amendment: This amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all people born in the United States, including African Americans.
  • The 15th Amendment: This amendment, ratified in 1870, gave African American men the right to vote.
  • The Ku Klux Klan: This was a white supremacist group which terrorized and intimidated African Americans during and after the Civil War.
  • The Freedmen’s Bureau: This was a government agency created to provide aid to newly freed slaves.
  • The Black Codes: These were laws passed in the South after the Civil War which restricted the rights of African Americans.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1866: This act granted citizenship and equal rights to African Americans.
  • The National Equal Rights League: This was a civil rights organization formed in 1864 which fought for equal rights for African Americans.
  • The Seneca Falls Convention: This was a women’s rights convention held in 1848 which called for women’s suffrage and other rights.

These political and activist movements played a crucial role in the fight against slavery and the quest for equal rights for all people. Their efforts helped bring about significant change and paved the way for future generations to continue the fight for justice and equality.

As students explore the history of slavery, it’s important to understand the political and activist movements that shaped this period. Encourage students to research and learn about the key figures and events that helped bring about change during this important time in our nation’s history.

FAQs about 8th Grade Slavery Journal Prompts

1. What are 8th grade slavery journal prompts?

8th grade slavery journal prompts are writing prompts designed to encourage middle school students to reflect on the history of slavery in the United States.

2. What types of prompts are included?

Prompts may include questions about the causes of slavery, the experiences of enslaved people, and the impact of slavery on American society.

3. Who can use these prompts?

Teachers, homeschooling parents, or anyone else working with 8th grade students can use these prompts.

4. How often should my student write in their journal?

That’s up to you! The prompts can be used as frequently as daily or as infrequently as weekly depending on your desired frequency.

5. Are these prompts intended to be controversial?

No, the prompts are designed to encourage thoughtful reflection and introspection, not to incite controversy or debate.

6. Can these prompts be modified for other grade levels?

Yes, some prompts may be appropriate for younger or older grades with slight modification.

7. How can I incorporate other resources to supplement these prompts?

You can use books, videos, or websites to provide more background information on the history of slavery to students.

Closing Thoughts on 8th Grade Slavery Journal Prompts

We hope these prompts have helped to promote thoughtful reflection on the complex history of slavery in the United States. It’s important to continue to educate ourselves and our children on this critical topic. Thank you for reading and please visit again soon for more educational resources.

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