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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 Obama||George Washington Carver||Benjamin Banneker|
|Maya Angelou||Robert Henry Lawrence Jr.||Oprah Winfrey||Ella Fitzgerald|
|Toni Morrison||Miles Davis||Mohammed Ali||Sidney Poitier|
|Sarah Walker||Harriet Tubman||Misty Copeland||Nelson Mandela|
|Sammy Davis Jr.||Olaudah Equiano||Charles Drew||Malcolm X|
|Serena Williams||Jesse Owens||Frederick Douglass||Rosa Parks|
|Mae Jemison||Jackie Robinson||Hiram Rhodes Revels||Thomas L. Jennings|
|Michael Jordon||Beyoncé||Thomas Mundy Peterson||Hattie McDaniel|
|Thurgood Marshall||Diana Ross||Billie Holiday||Ervin "Magic" Johnson|
|Gwndolyn Brooks||Booker T. Washington||Bessie Coleman||Angela Bassett|
|Loretta Lynch||Alvin Ailey||Marsha P. Johnson||Dredd Scott|
|Matthew Henson||Kanye West||Jimi Hendrix||Duke Ellington|
|Phyllis Wheatley||Jesse Jackson||Denmark Vesey||Alice Walker|
|Anna Kingsley||Ruby Bridges||Marcus Garvey||Langston Hughes|