Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

Book Summary: 

Dave the Potter was a man of uncommon talent. He was one of only two potters at the time who could make 20 gallon pots. He was a slave and he had a basic education. Dave was also a poet. He wrote his poems on some of his pots, some of which still survive. Dave’s poems give us glimpses into the life of this unique man.

Laban Carrick Hill
Bryan Collier
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Guiding Question: 

Do you think Dave the Potter was ever free? In what way(s)? 

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85): 

Honesty- Dave is known to have made beautiful pottery and could read and write. He probably had an easier life than many slaves, but he was not free for most of his life. He was sold several times and his family was sold away from him. How could that have happened to Dave and his family?

Empathy- How have you felt when you have been separated from your family? How would you feel if you knew you would never see them again?

Advocacy- For older student, explain the concept of government reparations. Discuss the topic using the following website or others:



Action- For older students, read the two bulleted articles on reparations and write a paper that explains why you think the U.S. government should or should not pay reparations to descendants of slaves.

Advocacy and Action- For younger students, create a piece of artwork or a written work that describes how Dave must have felt to have his family taken away. Post your work in a public place with a reference so people can learn more about Dave.