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The Vaults 

Savannah, GA
Duration: 1hr10min - 1hr 30min


  • To introduce main elements of the transatlantic slave trade

  • To explore connections between slavery and racial oppression and racism today 


Materials Needed:

Introduction (2min)

From 1450 to 1850, over 12 million Africans were stolen from Africa and brought to the Americas. Brought mainly from the west coast of Africa, they were inspected, bought, sold and traded like livestock for goods in exchange for labour. The true numbers of how many were taken are unknown because millions died during their journey through the Middle Passage. It took anywhere from three weeks to six months for slave ships to arrive at docking ports like the one Jelly and Yoshi visit in Savannah, GA.

It's believed by local tour guides that enslaved people were docked at ports like the one here in Savannah, before they were sold to plantations. Jelly and Yoshi explore this historic enclosure in the clip below.

Play: The Vaults (2min)

Video Debrief (10min)


In "The Vaults" clip, Jelly and Yoshi explore a historic enclosure some local tour guides believe enslaved Africans were held in before they were purchased by local plantation owners. This part of the tour seems so unreal to the cast because they, like many people, find it hard to believe that events like this really happened.


  • What is your initial reaction to this clip?

  • Jelly says, "I couldn't find no answers on how I could possibly survive living like that. The bravery and the struggle and the thrust to survive had to be to a tee in order for people to actually get through it. It went on for many years and it could only go on for so long because people were still standing..." What do you make of this statement?

Infographic: How African Labour Built a Global Economy (10min)

Share infographic. 


Download High Res file here.

It’s estimated 12.5 million African women, children and men were stolen from Africa and enslaved in the Americas. The transatlantic slave trade, also known as the triangular trade, went on for over 400 years between 1440 - 1870.


The trade took place in three parts. 

1st Leg - Africans were kidnapped, captured in war and/or purchased in the Western region of the African continent and forced to march to the coast and board slave ships. The ships took anywhere between three weeks to six months to arrive at docking ports in Brazil, The Caribbean and the US. The journey from Africa to the Americas is known as the Middle Passage

2nd Leg - Enslaved Africans were forced to work, often from sunrise to sundown on plantations or in mines, to plant and harvest crops or to dig for natural resources like gold, diamonds and iron. During this time period, it was African labour that made the US and European countries like Portugal, France and Britain rich because of the profits they made from raw goods and materials Africans harvested and mined.  Those raw goods and materials were shipped to European countries and manufactured into refined products that those countries could sell for massive profits, like sugar from sugar cane, textiles i.e. woven fabric for clothes from cotton and furniture from lumber.  


3rd Leg -  The manufactured goods or profits from the sale of those goods were used to capture and purchase more Africans and the cycle would continue.

Watch Video: The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you by Anthony Hazard (6min)


This video may be triggering and contains sensitive subject matter. 

This video outlines important details about the transatlantic slave trade and the impacts of this legacy on race relations today.

Video Debrief (10min)


This TEDEd video clip shares important details about the transatlantic slave trade. 

  • What is your initial reaction to this clip?

  • What new information about the transatlantic slave trade did you learn that was not mentioned in the infographic?

  • Any additional comments or observations?

Reflect and Share (30 - 45min)

Quotable Journal Reflection:

Adapted from "15 ways to spark student reflection in your college classroom" by Tricia Whenham

  • Ask students to choose a famous quote and explain why it connects to themes on the transatlantic slave trade. They can also choose lyrics from a song, a poem or a piece of artwork – any form of art they feel connected to that connects with lesson themes. Upon completion, have students present and share the quotes/art they chose.

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