5 Resources for Teaching Black History Month
A Collection for All Grade Levels
It’s Black History Month — an important observance in every classroom to dedicate extra time to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of Black Americans and to examine and learn from a collective history. Importantly, as many educators have echoed, attention to Black history should not be isolated in curriculum to a single month of the year. It should be a fundamental part of all learning, and made relevant to all students. But as it functions as a designated month, it can be helpful to set aside additional time or put extra energy into exploring resources or having conversations with your class in relation to the observance.
We’ve gathered a few resources here to help you think about the stories you may want your students to hear, or the themes and conversations you may want your students to explore.
Library of Congress Audio and Video Archives
The official .gov website, a project of a variety of national organizations, has a phenomenal collection of audio and video resources, primarily from the Library of Congress. Sorted by general subject area, such as religion and performing arts or poetry and literature, these resources are applicable to a wide range of grade levels and disciplines. Many of the resources are documentaries, some are interviews with famous Black Americans, and others are simply historical primary sources.
February is African American History Month. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration…www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov
National Endowment for the Humanities “Created Equal” Project
A series of four documentaries each fully available online, Created Equal chronicles the Civil Rights movement from a wide timeframe, beginning with abolition. To make the project readily accessible and useful for educators, the National Endowment for the Humanities has created a special educator resource page, which includes questions for class discussion aligning to each film and supplemental resources. The page is organized by three separate themes, and each video has different discussion questions based on the theme you want to explore with your students.
The NEH Created Equal project uses the power of documentary films to encourage public conversations about the changing…createdequal.neh.gov
2019 ASALH Theme
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founders of Black History Month, declared “Black Migrations” the theme of 2019. While the page below is not a collection of resources like the other links in this list, taking a look at the national theme for the observance might be useful to guide your lesson planning, and be leveraged as a tool to help your students engage in a national conversation. On the ASALH site, you’ll find a brief explanation of the chosen theme, and a printable PDF with that explanation alongside some historical images.
ASALH's 2019 theme Black Migrations emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and…asalh.org
The Poetry Foundation Collection
Perhaps a resource most relevant for ELA and humanities classes, The Poetry Foundation created a page of poems specifically curated to celebrate Black History Month. The page also includes educational resources, articles, and podcasts. Depending on the context of your class and the age of your students, some of these pieces could serve as a powerful supplement to other resources, especially if you’re looking for contemporary sources to stand alongside historical sources, because many of the poems were written and published recently.
Poems, articles, and podcasts that explore African American history and culture.www.poetryfoundation.org
National Geographic Kids: Black Inventors and Pioneers of Science
If you’re looking for a way to observe Black History Month in a STEM classroom space, or simply interested in allowing your students to study Black Americans’ accomplishments in math and science, this list is a great place to start. While the poems above may be better suited for older students, this article is geared towards younger learners, and is brief. If you want to go deeper, you could use this resource as a starting point for a larger research project.
Percy L. Julian is known as the "soybean chemist," for his extraordinary success in developing innovative drugs and…kids.nationalgeographic.com
This list is by no means comprehensive, and there are a plethora of reliable resources available to observe Black History Month — and to make central to your curriculum throughout the year. Where do you look for resources? Give other readers your suggestions in the comments.