Under the Freedom Tree
Guides by Deb – Keeping your books in the hearts of young readers and in the hands of those who care for them.
The guide linked below was created by Debbie Gonzales, MFA. Deb is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, and once served as a SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. She's the author of six “transitional” readers for a New Zealand publisher and the forthcoming non-fiction picture book Girls with Guts: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records (Charlesbridge, 2019). Deb earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
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Author: Susan VanHecke
Illustrator: London Ladd
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
Synopsis: Taut free verse tells the little-known story of the first contraband camp of the Civil War--seen by some historians as the "beginning of the end of slavery in America." One night in 1861, three escaped slaves made their way from the Confederate line to a Union-held fort. The runaways were declared "contraband of war" and granted protection. As word spread, thousands of runaway slaves poured into the fort, seeking their freedom. These "contrabands" made a home for themselves, building the first African American community in the country. In 1863, they bore witness to one of the first readings of the Emancipation Proclamation in the South--beneath the sheltering branches of the tree now known as Emancipation Oak.