Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
The United States Grows


Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.27

     challenging words:    boomtowns, persecution, historic, survival, travelers, settlement, journey, freedom, route, beginning, parlor, spirit, whenever, vehicle, cause, settled
     content words:    Civil War, Ku Klux Klan, Homestead Act, Great Plains, Mississippi River, Promised Land

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By Sharon Fabian

1     What would you do? Suppose you had been waiting your whole life for freedom. Then, when freedom finally came, something was still very wrong. You couldn't enjoy your freedom because a new kind of persecution was taking place. This is what happened with many former slaves who lived in the South after the Civil War. States and communities had passed new laws that took away their rights. The Ku Klux Klan was spreading terror.
2     For these African-Americans, the South was not the place to start a new life. So, when they saw Benjamin Singleton's posters and handbills, they took note. These advertisements promoted new communities in the West where former slaves could take advantage of the 160 acres of free land promised by the Homestead Act. Many decided that this was the opportunity they had been waiting for.
3     Families packed up their belongings and boarded a train or a covered wagon bound for the Great Plains. Their route took them across the Mississippi River and into the Midwest. Just like the Israelites in the Bible story of the Exodus, they were headed for a Promised Land, so they became known as the Exodusters.

Paragraphs 4 to 8:
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