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Activity 2: Story - Theodore Parker And The Fugitive Slaves: Refusing To Follow An Unjust Law

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Prepare to read the story or tell it dramatically. You may wish to engage a few participants to give voice to the roles of Theodore Parker and Millard Fillmore, both of whose written words are quoted in the story.

Description of Activity

Participants will hear about a time when a Unitarian minister used his power for good. By questioning the authority of the government - in particular, its enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law - Theodore Parker aided the anti-slavery cause. The story presents, too, the way President Millard Fillmore - also a Unitarian, personally opposed to slavery - chose to use his power.

Gather participants in a comfortable configuration for listening to a story. To introduce the story, you might say:

This is a true story that happened in the 1850s, before the U.S. Civil War. At that time, treating some people as property - slaves - was still the official policy of the U.S. government. As the story of Ellen and William Craft unfolds, you will see how a Unitarian minister, Theodore Parker used his power to question authority.

Read or tell the story. After the story, invite participants to briefly share their reflections and initial thoughts. Tell them they will discuss the story in more depth in Council Circle.

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