Black History Month in the Classroom

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Black History Month in the Classroom

Educators have the responsibility to teach their students about the diverse history of the country. This includes the often overlooked and underrepresented history of Black Americans.

By incorporating Black history and teaching about the experiences and contributions of Black Americans into the curriculum, you promote cultural awareness and understanding. Learning from the struggle of Black Americans in history can also help students develop empathy and respect for all cultures and perspectives. This is especially important in today's society, where diversity and inclusivity are deeply important qualities.

In this article, we will share some resources for teachers to incorporate in their lessons during Black History Month.

Black History Resources for Teachers

Online Teacher Resources

The internet is a valuable tool for finding resources to teach Black history in the classroom. Here are a few websites that offer a variety of resources for teachers:

  • This website offers a collection of lesson plans, articles, and other resources for teaching about Black history and promoting cultural awareness in the classroom.
  • The NMAAHC offers a variety of online resources for educators, including lesson plans, videos, and articles on topics related to Black history.
  • PBS offers a collection of videos, lesson plans, and other resources for teaching about Black history and culture.

Books and Literature

Incorporating books and literature into our lessons is another effective way to teach Black history in the classroom. Here are a few recommended titles:

  • "March" by John Lewis: This graphic novel trilogy tells the story of Congressman John Lewis and his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly: This book tells the true story of the African American women who played a crucial role in the early years of NASA.
  • "Henry's Freedom Box" by Jane Addams Peace: This true story from the underground railroad features a young boy, Henry, who decides to mail himself up north in a crate in search for freedom.

Historical Figures

Introducing students to important historical figures is an effective way to teach about Black history. Many students already know about some of the more well known historical figures, so it may be more interesting for them to learn about more unknown Black American historical figures.

  • Jane Bolin: in 1939, Jane Bolin became the first Black woman judge in the U.S.. She graduated from Yale Law School and served on New York's Family court for 4 decades. During her career, she worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to create a program that would help young boys not get sucked into a life of crime.
  • Alice Allison Dunnigan: Alice Allison Dunnigan was the first African-American female White House correspondent. She was also the first Black female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries. She did a lot for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity until 1965.
  • Wangari Maathai: Wangari Maathai became the first Black woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her environmental work in Kenya. She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. She introduced the idea of the Green Belt Movement which was the largest tree planting campaign in Africa. The organization has planted over 51 million trees since its founding in 1977.
  • Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler: Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first Black woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree. She graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864 and practiced medicine in Boston. She wrote one of the first medical publications written by a Black person in 1883 called "A Book of Medical Discourse".
  • Bayard Rustin: Bayard Rustin was a civil rights activist who was instrumental in organizing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He was a key advisor to MLK Jr. and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Because of Rustin's sexual orientation and activism he was arrested several times.

How to Incorporate Black History into Your Lessons

Incorporate Black History into Existing Lessons

One way to incorporate Black history into your lessons is to integrate it into existing topics. For example, when teaching about the Civil War, you can also discuss the impact of slavery and the experiences of Black soldiers during the war.

When teaching about the Civil Rights Movement, you can also discuss the contributions of lesser-known activists and the ongoing fight for racial equality today.

Use Primary Sources

Using letters, speeches, and photos from primary sources can provide a more authentic and personal perspective to historical events that your students will appreciate.

Encourage Discussion and Reflection

In addition to teaching about Black history, it is important to create a safe and inclusive space for students to discuss and reflect on what they have learned. Encourage open and respectful discussions about race, diversity, and equality in the classroom.

You can also assign reflective writing prompts or activities to help students process and internalize the information they have learned.

Educate Yourself!

CE Credits Online offers online professional education for K-12 teachers. You can take the work at your own pace courses anytime and anywhere. CE Credits Online offers courses like:

  1. A Mindful Pedagogy: Strategies for Creating Compassionate and Purposeful Learning Spaces
  2. Identifying and Removing Obstacles for Black Students with Special Needs
  3. Creating Compassionate Classrooms: Overcoming Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)
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