Introduction

As February is Black History Month, many educators are likely wondering how they should teach their students about this celebrated month in the proper way. This month honors the achievements made by African Americans and their integral role in American society both in the past and present. The theme this year is “African Americans and the Vote,” acknowledging the struggle of black men and women for the right to vote. Learning about African American history is essential for the youth because though times have changed, the fight for racial equality continues on.

Resources

There are many resources available online for educators to use in the classroom when teaching about Black History Month and its importance. This topic can be a sensitive one, but it isn’t as hard to teach as it seems, as long as the proper recognition is given to African American heroes and black history as a whole. These lesson plans, articles, and informational sites will help you to start putting together a plan of how and what you want to teach your students about Black History Month.

Lesson Plans

  1. Academy 4SC: Find videos related to Black History Month at Academy 4SC, like Voting Rights Act of 1965: Fighting Disenfranchisement and Brown v Board of Education 1954, among others. Teachers have access to resources like worksheets, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more included in each topic’s lesson plan. Explore Academy 4SC’s full library of applicable content under the tag Black History .
  2. Leaders 4SC Forces: Leaders 4SC provides a variety of Task Forces that provoke students to think critically about key issues as they roleplay as decision-makers and brainstorm well-detailed solutions. Each Task Force comes with step-by-step instructions, Google slide templates to be used with virtual breakout rooms, and topic-specific questions to get students started. The activities can be completed either individually or as part of a group. A fun Task Force is Reform The Justice System.
  3. Black History Month Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources: Scholastic offers a handful of resources educators can utilize to teach their students about Black History Month. Resources are split into 7 subject categories, including Black History Month Classroom Activities, African American Icons, Slavery and the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement, School Interation, Music and Cultural Influence, and Authors. Lesson plans, articles, blog posts, book lists, computer lab activities, and other types of materials are provided. For educators looking for creative activities with a different approach to helping students learn about Black History Month, these resources will be very useful!
  4. Black History Month Activities: This page provides educational videos and activities, technology resources, printables and/or lessons for grades K-12, African-American history resources, slideshows, quizzes, references, music and drama activities, and language arts activities, which are all for those looking to teach their students about Black History Month. Through using all of these lessons and activities, students of all grades will be able to “examine the historical and social context of slavery.” These resources will give students information on Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement, the struggle against segregation, and more.
  5. Black History Month Lessons & Resources: The National Education Association provides resources about Black History Month for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12, including lessons and activities, background resources, and quizzes and printables. There are many resources supplied, each of which focuses on a certain area of black history, such as the Harlem Renaissance, the Underground Railroad, Brown v. Board of Education, and the history of black labor. This is a great place to start when looking for materials to use in the classroom when teaching about Black History Month.

Articles

  1. 20 Black History Month Activities for February and Beyond: This article provides and discusses 20 different “Black History Month activities for the classroom that allow students to learn the history, discover the cultural impacts, and follow movements through the present day.” Great suggestions, such as reading through primary sources, learning about the Black Lives Matter movement, and turning the classroom into a museum, are detailed, and resources to help you get started are also provided. For educators who are looking for interactive, creative projects or lessons, this article might be the one for you!
  2. Black History Month: Teaching Beyond Slavery: Teaching Tolerance offers an article which focuses on avoiding “minimizing black history” by including “the full human experience beyone enslavement.” Instead of focusing solely on the experience of slaves, the author recommends that educators also teach students about other contributions African Americans have made. To do this, students should be given the chance to look at black literature, art, innovations, and customs which have shaped the culture of the United States over time. The overarching goal of this article is to give educators tips on how to teach about Black History Month to ensure that the proper recognition is given to the African American heroes of the past and those who are still fighting for full equality in all areas of life today.
  3. Black History Month: Teaching the Complete History: This article published by Teaching Tolerance asks educators to go beyond the standard curriculum and “ provide historical context so students will make meaningful connections to connections to current issues.” Black history does not consist of slavery alone, so the author recommends that educators teach the history of liberation movements, honor black civic engagement, recognize intersectional black identity, and celebrate black literature in order to help students understand black history in its entirety. You have to know the past to understand the present.

Informational Sites

  1. For Teachers- African American History Month: africanamericanhistorymonth.gov offers an abundance of activities for the classroom, which are categorized under the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Park Service. There are great resources and information provided for use!
  2. Black History Month: History.com provides a quick informational article, which includes facts about black history, the origins of Black History Month, the Black History Month 2020 theme, and a photo gallery of black women leaders. This page is a good one to have students read if you want to give them a brief overview of Black History Month before a more detailed lesson is given.
  3. Black History: Biography.com gives a brief introduction to Black History Month and supplies articles, maps, videos, stories, and biographies regarding black history and the most prominent figures that emerged. The main focus of these resources is on particular heroes in black history, including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, and Harriet Tubman.

Conclusion

Teaching students about Black History Month is very important and doing it in the right way is even more so. Much progress has been made over the past several decades regarding racial equality, but there is a long way to go before individuals of all races are treated equally by all people and establishments. Therefore, learning about brutality of slavery, the past accomplishments of African Americans, and the present-day conditions of racial inequality is key in order for progress to be made in the present and the future.

Additional Resources

  1. 20 pertinent classroom resources for Black History Month: PBS offers a list of 20 different classroom resources and lesson plans for teaching students about Black History Month. Topics include the March on Washington, the history of discrimination, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and racial equality. 
  2. Origins of Black History Month: The Association for the Study of African American Life and History provides a brief write-up on the origins of Black History Month. This resource is a great one for educators who want their students to learn about Carter G. Woodson, why February was chosen to be Black History Month, and the story behind how Black History month came to be.
  3. Black History Month teaching resources U.S.: PBS provides a list of 17 resources, including a documentary, lesson plans, a discussion guide, a poem and questions, and videos for educators to use when teaching about Black History Month. According to PBS, “these resources provide authentic student-driven learning experiences that will help all kids understand and honor Black History Month.”F