Reading Rainbow

Season 11 Episode 6

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Aired Weekdays 2:30 PM Oct 18, 1993 on PBS
out of 10
User Rating
2 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Follow the Drinking Gourd
LeVar reflects on a time when Africans were brought to America as slaves. He talks about how African-Americans risked their lives for freedom, and discusses how the music from slavery times effected the African culture. Keith David reads the featured story, which explains that the African-American folk song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd," was in fact a coded message to slaves giving them instructions on how to take the Underground Railroad north to states that abolished slavery.moreless

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  • A revealing look at the cruel times of slavery, and the expression of slavery through music.

    This episode from Reading Rainbow shows us the time when Africans took chances to escape slavery. The story/song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd," is such a revealing story of how blacks escaped slavery by night following that constelation of stars. That song helped slaves be free.

    The music for black history keeps the spirit of freedom alive to this day. The female group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, even sang and talked about that subject.

    "Follow the Drinking Gourd" is the perfect Reading Rainbow episode to be viewed by blacks and whites alike, especially during the month of February - Black History Month. I saw it just last week.moreless
  • A indept look on slavery for people of all ages.

    This was a powerful episode done in the Reading Rainbow way. It was on the very controversial topic,slavery. The book, "Follow the drinking Gord" was about a song that the slaves used to escape to freedom. I loved how they used poetry and dramatization to express the feelings of the slaves. It was very spiritual and uplifiting episode done in a tasteful way.
LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton


Tina Fabrik

Tina Fabrik

Theme Singer (telecasts of 1983-1998 only)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • LeVar: Slavery is painful to remember. But in one of the most difficult times in our nation's history, brave people both black and white risked their lives to end something because it was wrong. And from that terrible time came an important part of the legacy of African-American culture; courageous heroes inspiring songs and unforgetable stories that all Americans can share.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Featured Books:

      Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter
      Shake It to the One That You Love the Best: Play Songs and Lullabies from Black Musical Traditions adapted and collected by Sheryl Warren Mattox
      Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson
      A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David A. Adler