Students will observe the impact African-American soldiers, particularly of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, had on the Civil War by looking at the Robert Gould Shaw memorial in Boston and answering relevant questions.


8.11.6. Describe African-American involvement in the Union army, including the Massachusetts 54th Regiment led by Colonel Robert Shaw.

CCR Standard 7 Integrate visual information with other information in print and digital texts.


Photo of Robert Shaw Memorial


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Memorial Questions

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Questions for Reading

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Warm Up

Students will respond to the following question as their warm up. What are some wars that African-Americans have participated in?

New Material

After completing the warm up, students will work in pairs to complete two activities.  In the first activity, students will analyze an image of the Shaw memorial in Boston.  They will then answer related questions.  In the next activity,  they will read background information on the 54th and answer related questions.  These activities will allow the students to see that blacks and whites believed that African-Americans could aid themselves as well as the union in the war.


Students will complete two activities.  The first will have the students look at an image and answer related questions.  The second will have the students read background information on the 54th and answer related questions.


For homework, students will create a comic strip (graphic organizer) based on what they have learned regarding Shaw and the 54th.  The students will have been introduced to this type of graphic organizer by the time of this lesson.  The graphic organizer is attached in this box.

Comic Strip

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Closure and Reflection

To close the lesson,  I will show the scene from the movie Glory when the black soldiers are together on the night before they were to attack Fort Wagner.  As a journal writing activity, the students would write about how they might have felt if they were in the same situation as those black soldiers, knowing that there was a strong chance that they would die the next day.