Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Toolbox of Faith: A Program That Helps Children Discover the Uses of Faith

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. For a more interactive storytelling, have a few participants give voice to the words of Theodore Parker and Millard Fillmore, both of whose writings are quoted in the story. If possible, provide the words you wish them to read aloud ahead of time.

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, enslavement was allowed in the U.S., which means the government protected those who wished to treat other people as property. So an enslaved person who escaped was technically a fugitive from the law! 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.