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a woman comes up from her dive undersea

February 15, 2022

Untold American Story: Black Scuba Divers Explore Wreckage of Slave Ships

Ask Students: What is the “Middle Passage”? Who is investigating sunken slave ships, and what is their background? Where are the ships located?

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Summary

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, millions of enslaved Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas across the Atlantic ocean on a voyage known as the “Middle Passage.” One group is taking a literal deep dive into that history, in hopes of making some important discoveries and raising awareness of the implications it has for people today.

Discussion Questions

  • How many people are estimated to have been taken by slavers from Africa to America over three centuries?
  • What is the “Middle Passage”?
  • Who is investigating sunken slave ships, and what is their background?
  • Where are the ships located, and when did they sink?
  • Why are the divers seeking out these shipwrecks, according to this piece?

Focus Questions

In this interview, Jay Hagler says, “And the important part of this entire journey is literally telling the untold American story. If we do not find the ship, that doesn’t mean we do not tell the story.” What do you think he means? What does the project accomplish aside from locating the ships themselves?

Media literacy: Why do you think this piece contained the portion of interview in which Tara Roberts describes being inspired to become a diver?

Additional Resources

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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