In recent years, schools and educators have begun looking at their history books and curriculum to find places where Black history has been left out and ignored altogether. There is a much needed emphasis on teaching Black history all year round, especially the history beyond enslavement and the Civil Rights movement! While we know Black history deserves a place in our daily curriculum, these Black History Month resources allow you to give special focus on the joys and accomplishments of Black inventors, scientists, artists, and more throughout time.
The History Behind Black History Month
Black History Month is celebrated in the United States and Canada in February. During Black History Month, the focus is on recognizing and honoring the contributions and experiences of African Americans and other Black people throughout history.
Black History Month started as a week-long observance in 1926 and was initiated by historian Carter G. Woodson. In 1976, the observance was expanded into a month-long celebration.
Why is Black History Month Important?
For too long, Black history was left out of curriculum and textbooks altogether. And when Black history was taught, it was often inaccurate or only focused on enslaved people and inequalities. Rarely were Black people who helped mold and shape our world today acknowledged or even mentioned.
Black History Month is a dedicated time to focus on the great accomplishments of Black people throughout history. It can also allow you to step outside your curriculum and embrace learning for joy and curiosity. For example, you can explore events or people that wouldn’t otherwise fit inside your curriculum.
Black History Month also provides you with the opportunity to talk about the ongoing fight for racial justice and equality. This is something our students see in the news, so they are aware of the marches and conversations taking place. Having a discussion in the classroom can help students process what’s happening and understand the long history behind what they see in the news today.
And, of course, Black History Month is significant because our world grows more diverse by the day! Our students will find themselves in schools, workplaces, and social situations where they meet people of various backgrounds and cultures. By understanding history and the world a bit better, students can build empathy and understanding for others.
This Youtube Video is an excellent summary of Black History Month, including its history and its significance. I highly recommend playing it for students!
Black History Month Resources
There are tons of Black History Month resources out there, and I’ve used my fair share of them. However, there are a few Black History Month resources I always find myself coming back to because they’ve led to great conversations with students! Here are a few I recommend –
#1 Black History Month Research Project
If you want to take a student-guided approach, this Black History Month resource is perfect. The Black History Month Research Project includes posters for 20 significant individuals throughout history, along with a research piece for each person. People include Civil Rights leaders, pioneering artists, and more.
You can have students pick a figure they want to research and then have them present the information to the class. You could assign groups to research and then hang the final posters in the hallways.
#2 “March: Book One” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
This graphic novel is the first book in a trilogy that covers the life and work of John Lewis. In the particular novel, students will learn about John Lewis’ meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., the Nashville Student Movement, nonviolent protests and sit-ins, and more.
#3 “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly
This book is an excellent example of significant Black people being left out of history. Before man ever walked the moon, a team of female mathematicians made it possible for a rocket to fly into space and land on the moon’s surface.
Hidden Figures tells the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four Black women who made the Space Race a success.
#4 “We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden
This nonfiction text looks at five key historical moments and how they impacted Black equality. From the Civil Rights Movement to Jim Crow Laws to the War on Drugs, students will learn the history that got us where we are today – and why there is still unrest around racial equality in the United States.
#5 “The 1619 Project: Born on the Water” by Nikole Hannah-Jones
This picture book looks at the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States. When a student is asked to do a family tree project in school, she realizes she can only track her family back three generations. Her grandma tells her the story of her family’s history, which took an abrupt turn in 1619 when her ancestors were forced into slavery.
#6 “The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson
When two girls strike up a friendship, it shouldn’t be a dangerous situation – but it is. Because this is the segregated south, and one young girl is white while the other is Black. This book highlights the importance of understanding and appreciating different perspectives and experiences as two girls share their lives together.
These Black History Month resources are a great way to bring discussions on Black history into your classroom. But remember that Black history isn’t exclusive to February. You can use any of these Black History Month resources throughout the year to celebrate the joys, accomplishments, and lives of Black people throughout history.