From Slavery to Black Lives Matter

History & Cultural Heritage


Before we start:

A Webquest is a discovery tour, where the learner is his/her own guide! You decide where you will go to find results. Often, more than one answer is OK!

In this Webquest we will address the phenomenon of slavery, you must have heard or read about it. Some say that the consequences of slavery still have a huge impact on the daily lives of coloured people today, effects are still visible. Politicians and promoters of the social change say that we need to recognize and actively address slavery, in order to deal with discrimination and related problems. Their opponents claim (among other things) that these problems are caused by immigrants coming to Western Europe and the USA while not integrating. In their views, ethnic and religious differences are enhanced by people adhering to their original culture without trying to integrate into the society they chose. Still, social activists point at slavery in previous centuries as the underlying reason for discrimination today. Slavery has officially existed well into the 19th century: in some European countries and the USA, it was abolished only one and a half-century ago. The USA declared slaves free in 1865, a cruel Civil War was fought to achieve this. The British Empire ended slavery earlier, in 1833; France abolished slavery in 1848. The Netherlands did the same in 1860 (Indonesia) and in 1863 (Surinam as well as the Netherlands Antilles).


A short historical Background

When did slavery begin? What’s the benefit, for the slave owner and for the slave? The next lines are part of legislation that was written long ago: ‘When a slave tells his master: “You are not my master” then he will be punished by cutting off one ear.’

This is a text from the Code (Book of Laws) of King Hammurabi in ancient Babylon[1].

The code was carved in stone, 18 centuries BC (that’s almost 4000 years ago!). They belong to the oldest written texts we know. Slavery already existed then and probably much earlier.

Have a look at the image on the right above and ask yourself: what is going on there and when could this be? This is not an assignment; it is meant to help you get acquainted with the ancient roots of slavery, so give it a try and discuss the image in your group (without research!): just tell each other what you see.


[1]   Source in English:

Source in Dutch:


In this WebQuest you will investigate several aspects of Slavery and racism; the search will take you to the earliest times in human history and to different parts of the world. We want you to know about some things of the past, but you should also learn who was involved in those actions and how these events may still have an effect on our society today. This will help you to understand racism as it happens today, a fact acknowledged by influential politicians in highly developed countries. We also want you to have your own opinion on issues related to racism, like xenophobia, white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement. But maybe you have an opinion on these things already. We are curious if ideas will be the same after this Webquest. Have a nice discovery tour!


Understanding the origins, the extent and the consequences of Slavery.

This task may sound simple and easy, but you will have to study the oldest and partly unknown periods in human history, crossing through dozens of centuries. You may have to divide tasks within the group to discover the wide historical context that determined the origins of slavery.

We start with a preparatory assignment, as we need to know what we are talking about:

  1. Define the term ‘slave’: what is the essential feature of a person who is a slave?


Your next task is to search for the cultures or civilisations where slavery originated:

  1. In what culture can you find the oldest forms of slavery on earth? When did it happen? Who was allowed or entitled to have slaves? Was slavery common in that society or culture?
  2. One could argue that we owe great achievements to slavery, like the pyramids that people started to build in the early days of Egypt’s ancient civilisation. Who was responsible for building the pyramids, the Great Sphinx and other giant monuments? Why did they build them, given that it was such a huge effort?
  3. Religious texts like the Bible and the Koran also mention slavery. There’s a famous episode in the Old Testament in which slaves miraculously escape their captivity in Egypt. Tell that story in your own words and explain why these people were slaves. Does the Bible express a judgement on slavery? Is it considered okay, is it condemned, or none of these? Try to find out also what position the Koran takes in this issue.

When you don’t see slavery in your environment, it may seem odd that people would have slaves. In previous centuries it was not strange at all. Even in highly civilised countries, like here in Europe, slavery was considered normal and justified for a long time.


  1. Obviously, slavery had benefits for the ones who owned slaves. What did slaves do for their owners? Sum up the benefits for slave-owners, as many as you can think of.
  2. Did slaves agree to their status? What’s their potential benefit? Do you think some people may have volunteered to be slaves?
  3. A separate business is directly related to slavery: slave hunting and trading. What is that? Explain the announcement on the right:
  4. Find historical examples of slave hunting and trading. When was this ‘line of business’ introduced and by which kind of people?
  5. In the news you can find different examples of modern slavery. Pick one and explain how it works. As you know, you can’t buy slaves in the supermarket, you can’t sell them at a public auction, so how do present day slave owners get their slaves and for what purpose or business do they want them?
  6. In previous centuries hunting and trading slaves was profitable for European countries and companies. Describe how it worked and try to find out in what way current EU-member countries were involved in slave trading.
  7. Below you see a picture of what is called “triangle trade”.
    Have a good look, analyse the elements of the triangle and explain its meaning.



By SimonP at en.wikipedia –


  1. Slave hunting and trading was an ugly business for many reasons. The following picture and explanation show how the transport of slaves across the seas was carried out. This took place before the invention of the combustion engine using fuel: ships had to sail to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and that journey took weeks or even months. Use the images and the texts and write down what you see.

Passage on the vessels: conditions for slaves were horrendous; they endured months at sea with physical and mental abuse. Men were chained in cramped spaces with leg irons, and on average 304 people embarked on each voyage with 265 disembarking.


This 1791 print of the Brookes slave ship diagram is an image from the campaign to abolish the transatlantic slave trade in Britain. The publication of the image provided the public with a representation of conditions onboard slave ships for the first time.




  1. We continue with the same pictures; the explanation says: “304 people embarked on each voyage with 265 disembarking”. It seems 39 people are not accounted for; what happened to them and how is that possible?
  2. People who were against slavery were called Abolitionists. What does this this word mean?
  3. Slavery, Abolitionism and the slogan “all men are equal” are essential elements leading to the Civil War in the United States of America (1861), in which the Union fought against the Confederation. Explain what was going on and how it ended.
  4. The flag and other symbols of the Confederation still play a role in the discussion about racism in the USA today. Try to find out how that works and tell the story behind it.
  5. Is there a European country where slavery never existed and where the people never took part in any activities related to slavery?

There are many things happening these days that are linked to slavery, according to some people.

  1. The United Nations have more than once expressed objections against the typical Dutch phenomenon of Black Pete (Zwarte Piet). This figure is popular among traditionally oriented people, and it may have some relation to the blackface tradition in the USA, Canada and England. Explain what it is and why black people may feel offended by Black Pete.
  2. Your personal opinion: what do you think: should the looks (and the name) of Black Pete be changed so that people of colour no longer feel offended, or should tradition prevail?
  3. Compare the discussion about the looks and other features of Black Pete (being not so smart for instance) to the discussion about using the Confederate flag in the USA at festivals and other public events (like the Nascar race series). Do you see parallels?
  4. There is a phenomenon that is directly related to racism: ethnic profiling. An article on NLTimes tells how Dutch rapper Typhoon became a subject of ethnic profiling:


Door Serge Ligtenberg, CC BY-SA 4.0,


  1. Do you think Typhoon has a point here?
  2. Racism is featuring in the news, especially in the USA and recently it has become a more prominent news item than a couple of years ago. What caused the resurgence of racism in our daily news?
  3. Who is Colin Kaepernick and how did he become famous all over the world? What is the Black Lives Matter movement, what are BLM activists trying to achieve? How is Colin Kaepernick related to BLM?
  4. Name recent victims of fatal police violence in the USA, regardless of whether that violence by the police was justified or not. Pick one of these cases and describe it in detail.
  5. A well-known form of racism is called Apartheid, in fact it goes a few steps further, because Apartheid is an institutionalised form of racism: the segregation of different human races and the oppression of coloured people is part of legislation. In which country was Apartheid integrated in the political and socio-economic system? When was Apartheid officially ended and by whom?
  6. Some people say Apartheid still exists in another modern society; which one[1]? Explain the reasons for that claim. Your opinion: do you agree that this state uses a form of Apartheid?
  7. Did fatal police violence against someone of a minority group in your country occur during the last 25 years[2]? What happened with the police officers involved?
  8. Have you noticed or witnessed incidents of racism in your environment? If so, tell the story or find one in the news media (not the one about Typhoon of course!) and discuss with your teammates what it means to you. Are you shocked, surprised or does it not matter to you?


[1] Israël:

[2] More data for the Netherlands on:


All your sources can be internet-based: websites, social media, Wikipedia and any other online place where relevant information is stored. However, you may also use paper-based information: newspapers, books and documents in the local or school library or wherever you find them.

Make sure you check your sources: especially news media may publish “coloured” information which pleases the owners and the advertisers. The same applies to other media: some are biased because of personal preferences of the authors/journalists: they may favour some person (actor, musician, sports hero) and be inclined to choose their side when there’s a conflict of interests.

Whatever your source of information is, mention it. You don’t need to be objective, although that would be highly appreciated. Everything you say is OK, if your reasons and the evidence you use, are transparent. Other people should be able to check your findings. That is the basic rule in science: data and reasoning must be transparent.


This is also where science and journalism go separate ways …


What did you learn about slavery? And what about racism? Did this Webquest change your ideas about slavery, racism, the BLM movement and the importance of those issues? Did it perhaps change you (the way you will act in the future)? After working on these tasks: what is the knowledge or the opinions you will take along with you? What do you think about BLM protest actions? Do you share the worries about racism in our own society?

Rating your results

The table below shows how the teacher will evaluate the results of your work. We advise that you sit together (you or your group with the teacher) and go through the remarks that were made during the evaluation. Joint evaluation can also be done in a full classroom setting, provided that the whole class has worked on the same Webquest.




not bad



Assignment 1: definition and the origins of slavery

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you hardly worked on the questions.

You provided only a few background data with minimal comments to show where slavery came from. If people didn’t know about slavery, they wouldn’t be wiser with your answers.

You worked a little bit on gathering information, but you clearly have not learned much about early slavery, even though there’s so much information on the internet.

It’s a start, but you can improve, by striving for more complete answers.

You worked pretty hard on gathering information and you clearly know a lot about early slavery, its importance for the people involved. You used the internet well. This was a very good start, but you still can improve the information you give.

Your work is a fine example of gathering and presenting information and you clearly know how to use various media, like the internet, as a source of information.

This is close to perfection: it is hard to see how you could improve your work.

Assignment 2: Reasons for slavery

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you did little effort: you gave hardly any valid reasons why people wanted slaves.

Also, you did not talk much about slave trading, or the Abolitionists and the Civil War in America, although the facts are available on the internet.

You did some good efforts: you were able to give at least some why people wanted slaves. You were able to find some information about slave trading, or the Abolitionists and the Civil War in the USA. It’s a start, but you still can improve.

You worked pretty hard on gathering information and you were able to explain why people wanted slaves.

You also wrote well about slave trading, the opposition against it and the reasons for the Civil War in the USA: a very good start.

Your work is a fine example of presenting the complex data that you got from your various sources.

You explained the complex relation between slave trading, the opposition against it and the reasons for the Civil War in the USA. This is close to perfection!

Assignment 3: effects of slavery today

Answers to questions & argumentation

max .. points

Argumentation concerning consequences of slavery and present-day racism were not coherent; you hardly know the key persons in the racism discussion, the action leaders or their opponents. It is doubtful that you are aware of developments in the world and our society.

Argumentation concerning the consequences of slavery and present-day racism shows little coherence, you merely reproduced statements, but at least you were able to find them.

It’s a start, open for further improvement.

Argumentation concerning c consequences of slavery and present-day racism showed that you found information and presented it well. You showed a good understanding of various aspects of racism today. It’s a good start, but improvement is possible.

Argumentation concerning the consequences of slavery and present-day racism was coherent and complete. You found highly relevant data and statements.

You presented clearly what racism these days is about.

It’s close to perfection.

Your leaner report:


argumentation of your personal achievements


max .. points

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was hardly specific, consisting of simple and unrelated statements. There is reasonable doubt that you learned much.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements lacks solid coherence. At least you were able to name a few.

It’s a start, ready for improvement.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements showed good coherence. You named a few things that you learned and what it means to you.

It’s a good start!

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was complete. You were able to point out clearly what you learned, about the subject and about yourself! That’s what we wanted to see happening.

Teacher instruction

This Webquest is suitable for classroom work of small groups or for working in distant, online educational environments, where students work individually or again in groups. In the latter case they will have to use modern communication facilities like web-conferencing (Skype, Zoom) in order to cooperate effectively. In the case of distant, online training, the progress in this rather long Webquest as well as the evaluation process both need extra attention and care. No doubt it will require online communication between teacher and pupil(s) to clarify certain issues; also, teachers need to be aware of a possible holdup, when learners do not understand a certain task and stop working.

The introduction is the only information online students will have when starting their Webquest, but the historic orientation of the first question will take them straight to certain information that further clarifies the subject. In the classroom the teacher can introduce the subjects of slavery and racism in any way he/she likes, while the tasks for the students will remain the same.

Not all the questions and tasks will lead to straight and absolute true answers. In some cases, pupils will find different information, according to the sources they used, in other cases learners are asked to phrase their opinions.

Comparison of the answers given by pupils in the classroom or online (using web-conferencing), as well discussing the opinions given by the pupils, is an important part of the evaluation of this Webquest.

It is good for pupils to be aware of the discussion about racism, whether it is a problem in their direct environment or not. For some, this Webquest may be the start of developing their own opinion, for instance young Dutch learners may start to think about why Black Pete, the aide to Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), is black and have his skin colour included in his name ...

Some of the footnotes are meant to help the learners to find answers, but a few are giving away the results of the search that learners will have to do: to are meant to assist the teacher, not the pupil. Be sure to take those footnotes out before giving this Webquest to your learners.

Evaluation of learning achievements

In this section we will not dive very deep into the underlying educational theories about evaluation and testing: there’s too much out there than we could possibly cover in this small project report.

Instead, we want to concentrate on procedures that enable both students/pupils and their teachers to establish if the learning goals of the Webquest were achieved and, if so, to what extent. We recommend teachers make use of a combined evaluation procedure, that consists of:

  1. Statements by learners (after being asked to do so)
    • telling what they learned about the subject (knowledge-oriented self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know that …
    • telling what he/she learned about herself/himself (formative evaluation, in this case, diagnostic self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know about myself that I …
      This pair of basic statements add up to a so-called learner report, in which the pupil/student reflects on what the Webquest brought him/her in terms of acquired knowledge and new personal views and attitudes concerning the subject.

    For instance:

    • ‘I learned that in medieval times the hygiene of people was hardly a concern which helped to let epidemic diseases like the Plague cause so many casualties’ Or:
    • ‘I learned the facts and I know the earth is warming, but I cannot understand why people were so stupid to pollute the world and let it warm up so much.
    • ‘I learned from the information about diseases that this subject is more appealing to me than I would expect in advance: maybe I should consider a medical career’. Or:
      ‘The Webquests confirms what I thought already: I could not care less about the climate and global warming. In fact, I thought it was all a hoax and I still do!’

    This kind of assessment seems more subjective than it actually is: in his standard work on testing and evaluation (and much more), simply called Methodology (1974), Prof. A.D. de Groot described how consistent the student’s self-evaluations appeared to be: when asked again after 5 or 10 years, their evaluation would almost be the same. De Groot advised teachers to use the learner report as a start for joint evaluations, striving for consensus between teacher and student/pupil about the learning outcomes and their value for the learner, but also compared with the learning objectives as stated in the curriculum.

  2. The learning achievements are visible in the output produced by the students: it is physical evidence: reports, answers to questions asked in the Webquest, presentations, and performance during presentations (preferably recorded). The teacher completes an evaluation grid stating clearly what the learning outcomes for the student/pupil are. The categories in the grid can be modified by the teacher to cover more precisely the content of a Webquest.

    >We advise teachers to use the grid to start a joint evaluation discussion, aiming at consensus or at least understanding between the teacher and the student/pupil about the learning outcomes: were they achieved (as planned in the curriculum and communicated before the Webquest started) and to what extent? To communicate the learning goals clearly before any learning activity starts, is a transparency requirement that is widely acknowledged in the educational community. The history of making learning objectives explicit goes back to the evaluation ‘Bible’ by Bloom, Hastings and Madaus: ‘Handbook on formative and summative evaluation of student learning’ (1971), a standard work that also served as inspiration for the earlier mentioned Prof. De Groot.


The procedure also applies when students/pupils have worked together on a Webquest. The teacher will ask questions about individual contributions: ‘What did you find? What part did you write? How did you find the illustrations? Who made  the final presentation?’

All the evidence (of learning efforts and outcomes plus joint evaluations) is preferably stored in the learning portfolio of the student, or in any other suitable storage system (folders with written or printed documents, online collection of files, etcetera ).

Changes in personal points of view and feelings are harder to value and here the consensus between teacher and student/pupil about experiences during the learning process provides essential insights.

The grid below gives an example of how the evaluation of the learning process and achievements can be shaped: what kind of reactions to the Webquest does the teacher expect and how valuable are they? Is the teacher capable to explain the value or score allocated to answers or presentations given by pupils? Does the pupil/student understand the evaluation outcomes, and does he/she agree? If an agreement (consensus is not possible, it is still the teacher who decides how to value the student’s work.

Please note that the text in the grid addresses the pupil/student directly: this is important and it is in fact a prerequisite for using such an evaluation grid: it is specifically meant to enable a discussion of learning results between teacher and student and not to communicate learning achievements of learners to others who had no direct role in the Webquest.

Evaluation Grid

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Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

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