NPS 8th Graders Visit the Amistad
The Amistad Freedom Schooner, a 129-foot recreation of the historic Amistad ship, made port at Norwalk's Veterans Park on Sept. 5, 2023.
Over 800 eighth-grade students from across the district will step aboard the Amistad Freedom Schooner, a 129-foot recreation of the historic Amistad ship, between Sept. 7 and Sept. 14 to better understand the sacrifice and struggle 53 Mende natives experienced when they rebelled against their slave captors over 180 years ago.
Discovering Amistad, a non-profit educational organization, uses the historic ship to “keep history alive” through its message of freedom, hope and human rights. Students will benefit from the Amistad interactive curriculum which highlights the Amistad’s story and incorporates contemporary lessons of freedom and equity. Some of this education already began with last year’s 7th grade students working with trained educators from Discovering Amistad in the classroom.
When the Amistad Freedom Schooner ports in Norwalk, these same students (now 8th graders) will learn about the 1839 Amistad Rebellion with interactive programs dockside and aboard the ship. The instruction will teach these students more of the history of the uprising and connect the story to their individual lived experiences as well as contextualizing it within the history of their own town or neighborhood.
“As educators, we have a responsibility to teach our students about the events that have shaped our nation's history. The history of the United States is a series of revolts and rebellions – from the American Revolution to the George Floyd Protests of the Summer of 2020. The story of the Amistad Uprising illustrates for our students that even in 1839, there were groups of people protesting to advance social and racial justice,” said Stacey Bergin, Education Administrator for Curricula and Professional Development for Norwalk Public Schools.
The 1839 Amistad Rebellion is a powerful chapter in America’s history. It is a story of the resiliency, perseverance and ingenuity of 53 Mende natives who were captured in Sierra Leone, survived the horrific Middle Passage voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, and were illegally sold into slavery in Cuba. Their leadership and survival skills enabled them to fight for their lives above the Amistad schooner and, later, fight for their freedom in the U.S. justice system, bringing to the forefront of American politics the explosive issue of slavery.
“I am very proud that NPS has provided our 8th graders with the opportunity to learn about the Amistad Uprising, to visit the schooner, and to inspire our students to be Upstanders in the world,” Bergin said.
More about Discovering Amistad:
Discovering Amistad (DA) is a non-profit educational organization founded in 2016. DA owns and operates the Amistad Freedom Schooner, the 129-foot recreation of the historic ship. The Amistad has become Connecticut’s Flagship, and it is utilized as a platform to “keep history alive” through its message of freedom, hope and human rights.
Discovering Amistad is committed to use the ship as a “floating classroom” to facilitate initiatives that impart inclusive education, generate conscious conversations, and mobilize agents of change. Since our inception, over 18,000 individuals have been reached in the Discovering Amistad array of offerings.
For additional information, visit Discovering Amistad’s website at www.discoveringamistad.org.