Celebrating Black History
Black History Month began thanks to the efforts of the Black American scholar, Carter G. Woodson who sought to acknowledge the overlooked contributions of Black Americans in history. The original weeklong celebration incorporated the birthdays of Frederick Douglas (an abolitionist and founder of the civil rights movement) and Abraham Lincoln (signer of the Emancipation Proclamation.) The week evolved into a month-long event, and February was designated as Black History Month in 1976.
The global theme of Black History Month 2023 is “Black Resistance” to reflect on endurance in the face of oppression since America’s earliest days. The theme emphasizes the fight against systematic racism and working towards racial equality. Systematic oppression has sought to destroy the dreams of our griots, like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and freedom fighters, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought to realize.
If you are looking for resources to enhance or create meaningful lessons on Black History, the website Blackhistorymonth.gov provides a wealth of information for teachers and students. You can find numerous lesson plans, a student’s guide to the Harlem Renaissance, a Rosa Parks virtual student workshop, and so much more. (The website is a collaborative effort of Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.)
Browse the image gallery www.blackhistorymonth.gov/images/ that hosts an incredible collection of pictures that capture pivotal moments in the civil rights movement. It also includes photographs of many generations of Black Americans who have made contributions to country, culture, and arts. Scroll through Civil War images of Black American soldiers and enhance lessons using documents from the National Archives.
A companion activity for the website is an “Interests and Icons Project.” Ask students to match their personal interests to a Black American icon who had an impact on the discipline. A few examples include Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space and contributor to the U.S. Space Program. Or fashion trailblazer Ann Lowe an iconic clothing designer who created Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s wedding dress, though she was not credited until many years later.
Providing an emphasis on inclusion all year long is a very important message for children. Black History books and materials aren’t put away on March 1st but are incorporated meaningfully all year long. Showing different faces and perspectives across lesson plans indicates to kids that they can work towards something better for generations to come
Stephanie Standley M. Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Psychology as well as a Master of Education-Literacy from the University of San Diego. Stephanie has 12+ years of classroom experience as a teacher and currently supports students in Special Education. She is inspired to use evidence-based practices to educate children in creative and engaging ways.