Black History Month Activities

By Rebecca Ray

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The month of February is considered Black History Month or African American History Month in the United States and Canada. The United Kingdom celebrates Black History in October. During this time, important figures from history are recognized and remembered for their contributions to the cause of equality, efforts to develop strong communities, and gifts to the cultural enrichment and entertainment of all. The most notable figure may be Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who marched on Washington D.C. and delivered his famous speech, "I Have a Dream". In this speech, MLK Jr. called for an end to racism and discrimination - both serious issues in the 1960s that have still not been fully resolved today.

Black History Month can be celebrated in many ways in all manner of classrooms. Below are some suggestions for Black History Month activities for your English Language Arts (ELA) and Social Studies classes. Check out all three age ranges below for great ideas.

Classroom Exercise for Grades K-5

Teach students about an important African American in U.S. history and how they impacted later civil rights movements through stories, videos, and other lessons. Have students create a storyboard that shows why this person is significant. See the example below.

Older students in this range can also independently research or read books about the Atlantic Slave Trade, Underground Railroad, or the civil rights movements. After students create their own storyboards about a particular person or about an important event in Black History, let them share their work and have a rich class discussion.

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Additional Black History Month Activities for K-5

Classroom Exercise for Grades 6-8

Students can read about or research the issues that led up to the civil rights movement and discuss ideas like equality, racism, segregation, and intolerance. A discussion of this sort is also a good segue into talking/learning about different groups that have been discriminated against in the past or present: Jews, Native Americans, Gypsies, members of the LGBTQ community, people with cognitive or physical disabilities, Muslims, Latinos, women, the elderly, etc.

Example Questions for Discussion:

After having a discussion about equality or other topics, have students create a storyboard that combines elements of the conversation. This might be a linear narrative, a spider map about a central theme, or a comparison T-Chart.

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Additional Black History Month Activities for 6-8

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Classroom Exercise for Grades 9-12

Students can choose an important person from history and do a storyboard biography about them and their contribution to equality and/or society. They could also analyze Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Read Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address, “The Audacity of Hope”, and MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Have students create a storyboard depicting any of the following:

  1. Explanation of three important quotes
  2. Analysis of the the rhetoric (one or both speeches)
  3. Venn Diagram looking at similarities and differences
    • purpose/audience/delivery
    • reception from or effect on the public
    • message about community or cooperation
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Additional Black History Month Activities for 9-12

Suggested Reading

Important African American Figures

There have been many talented, intelligent black pioneers, social justice activists, and artists in our history. It is impossible to name them all. During Black History Month, remember the great names and the many unsung heroes alike.

Partial List of Influential African Americans
MLK Jr.Barack ObamaGeorge Washington CarverBenjamin Banneker
Maya AngelouRobert Henry Lawrence Jr.Oprah WinfreyElla Fitzgerald
Toni MorrisonMiles DavisMohammed AliSidney Poitier
Sarah WalkerHarriet TubmanMisty CopelandNelson Mandela
Sammy Davis Jr.Olaudah EquianoCharles DrewMalcolm X
Serena WilliamsJesse OwensFrederick DouglassRosa Parks
Mae JemisonJackie RobinsonHiram Rhodes RevelsThomas L. Jennings
Michael JordonBeyoncéThomas Mundy PetersonHattie McDaniel
Thurgood MarshallDiana RossBillie HolidayErvin "Magic" Johnson
Gwndolyn BrooksBooker T. WashingtonBessie ColemanAngela Bassett
Loretta LynchAlvin AileyMarsha P. JohnsonDredd Scott
Matthew HensonKanye WestJimi HendrixDuke Ellington
Phyllis WheatleyJesse JacksonDenmark VeseyAlice Walker
Anna KingsleyRuby BridgesMarcus GarveyLangston Hughes

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•   (English) Black History Month   •   (Español) Mes Negro de la Historia   •   (Français) Mois de L'histoire des Noirs   •   (Deutsch) Schwarzer Geschichtsmonat   •   (Italiana) Black History Month   •   (Nederlands) Black History Month   •   (Português) Mês da História Negra   •   (עברית) חודש ההיסטוריה השחורה   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) شهر تاريخي اسود   •   (हिन्दी) काले इतिहास का महीना   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Черный Месяц Истории   •   (Dansk) Black History Month   •   (Svenska) Black History Month   •   (Suomi) Black History Month   •   (Norsk) Black History Month   •   (Türkçe) Siyah Geçmiş Ayı   •   (Polski) Czarny Miesiąc Historii   •   (Româna) Istorie Luna Neagra   •   (Ceština) Black History Měsíc   •   (Slovenský) Mesiac Čiernej Histórie   •   (Magyar) Black History Month   •   (Hrvatski) Crni Povijesni Mjesec   •   (български) Месец на Черна История   •   (Lietuvos) Juodosios Istorijos Mėnuo   •   (Slovenščina) Črna Zgodovina Mesec   •   (Latvijas) Afroamerikāņu Vēstures Mēnesis   •   (eesti) Black History Month