Essential Questions:
  1. How did the history and geography of West Africa shape the people who became the first African Americans?
  2. What role did trade and religion play in the rise and fall of West African kingdoms?
  3. How did the peoples of the forest region become involved in the slave trade with Europe?

Common Core Standards:

Student Objectives:

Key Terms and People:
  • Ghana, Mali, and Songhai Kingdoms
  • Sundiata of Mali
  • Emperor Mansa Musa
  • King Askia Muhammad
  • Trans-Saharan Trade
  • Griots

Activities and Assessments:
After reading the excerpt of "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima, students will identify the argument being made in the literature, the evidence being used to support the argument, and express a position of whether or not to accept the information as factual history.

Additional Readings:
  • Excerpted biologies
  • Excerpt from the "Epic of Sundiata"