Black History Month Education

Black History Month Education: We at the Center for Racial Justice in Education believe that Black history, stories, and voices should be centered, honored, and elevated in school curricula every day. We also recognize the significance, relevance, and origins of Black History Month. Carter D. Woodson and the ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) established “Negro History Week” in 1926 to promote African American history as a discipline and to celebrate the achievements of African Americans.  Black history and experience are still lacking in our textbooks, required readings, STEM, and overall curriculum of our educational system. We are now entering February, which means Border Crossers will be providing resources that can be used beyond this month. Unless Black history is taught throughout the year, it perpetuates an “othering” of Black Lives and Black students, and is a manifestation of anti-blackness.  Education must continue to uplift every student and reinforce that Black Lives Matter every day by integrating Black history and experiences into all curriculum.

As we celebrate and commemorate Black History Month, it is important to involve students in activities that encourage them to think broadly and critically about the Black experience in all of its complexity. History, point of view, politics, struggle, first-person experience, art, literature and data should be incorporated into the curriculum. Here are ten suggestions for incorporating Black History Month into the curriculum.

All people, regardless of race or place, deserve the same rights and freedoms. For too long, Black and brown people in America have been denied equality because of the color of their skin. To help students understand the reality of Black people’s experiences in American history, their impact on American culture, and to celebrate their achievements, we’ve compiled a selection of lesson plans that cover a variety subjects and that can be adapted to fit multiple grade levels.

Grades K-5

Lesson Plans & Activities

LESSON PLANS

Musical Harlem
In this 3-5 lesson, students will learn about the Harlem Renaissance and create original jazz artwork. They will listen to audio samples, analyze elements of jazz, research musicians, and learn how jazz became a unifier between community and culture.

Jazz Music, Dance, and Poetry
In this 3-5 lesson, students will explore jazz music and dance, then write a jazz-inspired cinquain poem. They will build their background on the history of jazz and its use of improvisation to demonstrate jazz dance movements.

Celebrate African American Heritage
Lessons, activities, and resources for grades K-5.

Teaching Hard History
Our youngest students deserve a truthful, age-appropriate account of our past. Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching for Tolerance) provides resources for elementary educators in this first-of-its-kind framework, along with student texts, teaching tools, and professional development for anyone committed to teaching this hard history. Grades K-5.

ACTIVITIES

Culture & Change: Black History in America
Students in grades 3-4 can read about Rosa Parks, Melba Pattillo, and 10 African American men and women and their inventions. They can view an interview with author Christopher Paul Curtis and listen to a history of jazz with Wynton Marsalis, and take a virtual journey on the Underground Railroad.

Notable African Americans from the 18th-century to the present
In this Jeopardy-type quiz game students in grades 5-12 can choose from three levels of difficulty to test their knowledge of famous African Americans. Spelling counts, for example Billy Holiday rather than Billie Holiday would be marked incorrect.

Background Resources

SOCIAL STUDIES

African American History Month Exhibits & Collections
Resources covering art and design, baseball, civil rights, culture, folklife, military, music and performing arts, religion, slavery, and resource guides.

W. E. B. Du Bois: Online Resources
Includes digital materials related to W. E .B. Du Bois and links to external Web sites.

Black Labor History
Lessons and links on the life histories of people whose struggle was part of a larger social and economic movement to improve the lives of the working class.

Separate Is Not Equal – Brown v. Board of Education
History, images, and other resources covering the historic Supreme Court ruling ending segregation and ensuring opportunity in education.

Africans in America
Images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries. The site provides teacher’s and youth guides. The four-part series may be in local libraries.

Black History – Biography – Celebrate Black History Month & People
Biographies, timelines, photos, and videos on notable African Americans.

The Awakening of Norman Rockwell This article examines Norman Rockwell’s career and how his painting, The Problem We All Live With, for the January 14, 1964 issue of Look magazine was a turning point in this career and reflected his unexpected politicization in the 1960s.

ARTS

Poems to Celebrate Black History Month
Poems and articles by African-Americans.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
Online activities and biographies, transcripts of many interviews with musicians, K-12 lesson plans, and a music study guide for grades 5-8.

The History of Hip-Hop
A collection of interviews from National Public Radio (NPR) that chronicle the seminal people and events in the hip-hop movement.

African American Visual Art and the Black Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement (BAM) began in the mid-1960s to provide a new vision of African Americans. This site provides images galleries a theoretical essay, timeline, and links to other online art sources. Note: the top banner links are dead but the bottom links are functional.

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
African American and Global African history resources.

SCIENCE

10 Black Scientists that Science Teachers Should Know About
A list from PBS Education of some of the top Black scientists, engineers, inventors, and mathematicians that includes links to media resources to help you bring their work—and stories—into your classroom.

8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier
This blog post outlines some of the lesser-known but vital contributions of Black inventors.

SPORT

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: Resources for Teachers
Before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball there was Negro League Baseball. This site features history, a timeline, photos, and teacher resources.

African American Athletes
Brief biographies and film clips of outstanding African American athletes. Don’t miss the links to legal and political figures, scientists and educators, activists, artists and writers, entertainers, and musicians and singers.

Quizzes

Printables

Video

Legacy: Black and White in America
Compares African-American life today and that of the Civil Rights generation.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (68 minutes)
Considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, Faubourg Tremé is the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz.

Books

Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Children’s Books
A teacher’s resource kit from the High Museum

Find African American booklists from Read Across America.

Lesson Plans & Activities

LESSON PLANS

Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series: Removing the Mask
Students in grades 6-8 analyze and compare visual and poetic works by Jacob Lawrence, Helene Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar and consider how they represent changing roles of African Americans.

The Poet’s Voice: Langston Hughes and You
Students in grades 6-8 investigate “voice” in Hughes’s poetry, develop their own distinctive voices in journal entries, and write an original poem or critical essay on an aspect of Hughes’s poetic voice.

Teaching Hard History
These resources for middle- and high-school educators include Learning for Justice’s grades 6–12 framework, as well as student-facing videos and primary source texts to help all students grasp the historical significance of slavery. Educators will also find teaching tools and professional development resources.

The Illusion of Race
Students in grades 6-8 investigate both genetic and societal consequences of the often-artificial and evolving classifications of race and ethnicity. Student and teacher materials are included.

ACTIVITIES

Notable African Americans from the 18th-century to the present
In this Jeopardy-type quiz game students in grades 5-12 can choose from three levels of difficulty to test their knowledge of famous African Americans. Spelling counts, for example Billy Holiday rather than Billie Holiday would be marked incorrect.

The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom
The Underground Railroad was the network used by enslaved black Americans to obtain their freedom in the 30 years before the Civil War (1860-1865).

Background Resources

SOCIAL STUDIES

African American History Month Exhibits & Collections
Resources covering art and design, baseball, civil rights, culture, folklife, military, music and performing arts, religion, slavery, and resource guides.

W. E. B. Du Bois: Online Resources
Includes digital materials related to W. E .B. Du Bois and links to external Web sites.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Stories, interactive maps, activities and tools, and lesson plans and activities for grades 6-12.

Black Labor History
Lessons and links on the life histories of people whose struggle was part of a larger social and economic movement to improve the lives of the working class.

Separate Is Not Equal – Brown v. Board of Education
History, images, and other resources covering the historic Supreme Court ruling ending segregation and ensuring opportunity in education.

Africans in America
Images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries. The site provides teacher’s and youth guides. The four part series may be in local libraries.

Black History – Biography – Celebrate Black History Month & People
Biographies, photos, and videos of notable African Americans.

The Awakening of Norman Rockwell
This article examines Norman Rockwell’s career and how his painting, The Problem We All Live With, for the January 14, 1964 issue of Look magazine was a turning point in this career and reflected his unexpected politicization in the 1960s.

ARTS

Poems to Celebrate Black History Month
Poems and articles by African-Americans.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
Online activities and biographies, transcripts of many interviews with musicians, K-12 lesson plans, and a music study guide for grades 5-8.

The History of Hip-Hop
A collection of interviews from National Public Radio (NPR) that chronicle the seminal people and events in the hip-hop movement.

African American Visual Art and the Black Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement (BAM) began in the mid-1960s to provide a new vision of African Americans. This site provides images galleries a theoretical essay, timeline, and links to other online art sources. Note: the top banner links are dead but the bottom links are functional.

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
African American and Global African history resources.

SCIENCE

10 Black Scientists that Science Teachers Should Know About
A list from PBS Education of some of the top Black scientists, engineers, inventors, and mathematicians that includes links to media resources to help you bring their work—and stories—into your classroom.

8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier
This blog post outlines some of the lesser-known but vital contributions of Black inventors.

SPORTS

African American Athletes
Brief biographies and film clips of outstanding African American athletes. Don’t miss the links to legal and political figures, scientists and educators, activists, artists and writers, entertainers, and musicians and singers.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: Resources for Teachers
Before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball there was Negro League Baseball. This site features history, a timeline, photos, and teacher resources.

Quizzes

 

Printables

 

Audio & Video

AUDIO

Science Update: Spotlight on African-American Scientists
Students in grades 6-12 can listen to interviews with a select group of black scientists working in North America today.

Blues Journey (23:17 minutes)
This four part audio series explores the history of the blues.

VIDEO

Legacy: Black and White in America
Compares African-American life today and that of the Civil Rights generation.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (68 minutes)
Considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, Faubourg Tremé is the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz. Check local listings to see when it airs on a local PBS station.

Forgotten Genius (120 minutes)
Chemist Percy Lavon Julian struggled against racism as he pursued research with steroids and alkaloids and helped to create affordable and effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and glaucoma.

Lesson Plans & Activities

LESSON PLANS

Rhythm & Improv: Jazz & Poetry
Students in grades 9-12 analyze jazz music, considering sound, rhythm, and improvisation in order to identify jazz characteristics in poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, Sonia Sanchez, and Langston Hughes. They will then incorporate the elements in their own poetry.

Variation in Human Skin Color
Students in grades 9-12 explore factors controlling human skin color variation and how perceived racial differences affect human society. Student and teacher materials are included.

Teaching Hard History
These resources for middle- and high-school educators include Learning for Justice’s grades 6–12 framework, as well as student-facing videos and primary source texts to help all students grasp the historical significance of slavery. Educators will also find teaching tools and professional development resources.

Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten
Through a series of video clips and activities, students can learn about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and how the community of Tulsa is coming to terms with its past, present, and future.

African American English
In this unit, students in grades 9-12 examine several hypotheses about the development of African American English (AAE), consider how AAE has been treated in schools, and analyze the influential role of AAE in modern culture and society.

ACTIVITIES

Notable African Americans from the 18th-century to the present
In this Jeopardy-type quiz game students in grades 5-12 can choose from three levels of difficulty to test their knowledge of famous African Americans. Spelling counts, for example Billy Holiday rather than Billie Holiday would be marked incorrect.

The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom
The Underground Railroad was the network used by enslaved black Americans to obtain their freedom in the 30 years before the Civil War (1860-1865).

SOCIAL STUDIES

African American History Month Exhibits & Collections
Resources covering art and design, baseball, civil rights, culture, folklife, military, music and performing arts, religion, slavery, and resource guides.

W. E. B. Du Bois: Online Resources
Includes digital materials related to W. E .B. Du Bois and links to external Web sites.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Stories, interactive maps, activities and tools, and lesson plans and activities for grades 6-12.

Black Labor History
Lessons and links on the life histories of people whose struggle was part of a larger social and economic movement to improve the lives of the working class.

Separate Is Not Equal – Brown v. Board of Education
History, images, and other resources covering the historic Supreme Court ruling ending segregation and ensuring opportunity in education.

Africans in America
Images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries. The site provides teacher’s and youth guides. The four part series may be in local libraries.

Black History – Biography – Celebrate Black History Month & People
Biographies, photos and videos of notable African Americans.

The Awakening of Norman Rockwell
This article examines Norman Rockwell’s career and how his painting, The Problem We All Live With, for the January 14, 1964 issue of Look magazine was a turning point in this career and reflected his unexpected politicization in the 1960s.

ARTS

Poems to Celebrate Black History Month
Poems and articles by African-Americans.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
Online activities and biographies, transcripts of many interviews with musicians, K-12 lesson plans, and a music study guide for grades 5-8.

The History of Hip-Hop
A collection of interviews from National Public Radio (NPR) that chronicle the seminal people and events in the hip-hop movement.

African American Visual Art and the Black Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement (BAM) began in the mid-1960s to provide a new vision of African Americans. This site provides images galleries a theoretical essay, timeline, and links to other online art sources. Note: the top banner links are dead but the bottom links are functional.

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
African American History by region.

SCIENCE

10 Black Scientists that Science Teachers Should Know About
A list from PBS Education of some of the top Black scientists, engineers, inventors, and mathematicians that includes links to media resources to help you bring their work—and stories—into your classroom.

8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier
This blog post outlines some of the lesser-known but vital contributions of Black inventors.

SPORT

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: Resources for Teachers
Before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball there was Negro League Baseball. This site features history, a timeline, photos, and teacher resources.

African American Athletes
Brief biographies and film clips of outstanding African American athletes. Don’t miss the links to legal and political figures, scientists and educators, activists, artists and writers, entertainers, and musicians and singers.

 

AUDIO

Blues Journey (23:17 minutes)
This four part audio series explores the history of the blues.

VIDEO

Legacy: Black and White in America
Compares African-American life today and that of the Civil Rights generation.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (68 minutes)
Considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, Faubourg Tremé is the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz. Check local listings to see when it airs on a local PBS station.

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (220 minutes)
Jack Johnson was the first African American boxer to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The website includes the story of Johnson’s life and career, a timeline, and media gallery. The DVD may be available in local libraries.

How Do We Celebrate Black History Month? Teaching Black History Month in Schools:

What Can We Do In Our Classrooms? Lesson Plans and Curriculum Resources for Educators:

Do We Need Black History Month? The Underrepresentation and Miseducation of Black Stories, Experiences, and Histories in Schools:

What Are Ways To Bring Black Lives Matter Into The Classroom? (Curriculum Resources):

Why Teach Black Lives Matter in Schools? (Think Pieces):

Where Are Afro-Latinos Represented in School Curricula?

How Do We Center Black Women and Black Girls in Our Schools?

How Do We Center Black LGBTQ Experiences?

As a Parent, What Are Ways I Can Engage My Family in Black History Month?:

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