Black history and culture is such a part of the American fabric -- and the school curriculum -- that it's difficult to imagine a time when that wasn't so. Established as Negro History Week in the 1920s by Carter G. Woodson, February was chosen for the celebration because Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born in this month. Extended to a month-long celebration in 1976, Black History Month is an opportunity to emphasize the history and achievements of African Americans.
A Black History Treasure Hunt
Students learn about famous black Americans while polishing their Internet surfing skills. Four different hunts -- for students of all ages. Student work sheets included.
Five Lessons in Black History
Primary source materials teach about Rosa Parks, school integration, and the growth of the African-American population throughout history. Plus: Students create a database/timeline and write a rap about a famous figure in Black History. More!
Lessons to Celebrate Black History Month
Ten innovative activities to help you incorporate the African-American experience into your curriculum all year long.
Langston Hughes Was a Dreamer Too
Learn how Langston Hughes expressed his dreams through poetry. (Grades 2-12)
Now Let Me Fly -- A Black History Reader's Theater Script
Celebrate Black History Month by staging a classroom production of this play. (Grades 3-12)
Activities Celebrate Achievements of African Americans
Activities that reflect the positive impact black Americans have had on our nation's history. Included: Internet-based activities to celebrate Black History Month.
The Road to Freedom: Using the WWW to Teach About Slavery
These activities will help students trace the journey to freedom and learn about some of the heroes who paved the way. Included: Activities for teaching about slavery across the grades and the curriculum.
Climb Aboard the Underground Railroad T.O.U.R.
An online project for those studying the Underground Railroad. Project coordinators say, "Climb aboard!" You will share, learn, and uncover a bit of America's lost past.
Celebrating African American History Month
Lesson plans to encourage students to explore the history of African Americans, learn about their struggles, and celebrate their successes.
Brown v. Board of Education Celebrates 50 Years
On the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, Education World offers this special lesson planning resource. Included: Links to more than 3 dozen lessons.
An Experiment in Unfair Treatment/Prejudice
Pauline Finlay, who teaches at Holy Trinity Elementary School in Torbay, Newfoundland (Canada), submitted this lesson, which offers a simple experiment to help launch a discussion of unfair treatment and prejudice/bias. (Grades 3-12)
The African American Experience: A Research Quilt
Introduce students to the research process as they construct a quilt square highlighting the achievements of a famous Black American. Share the quilt with your community.
A Mirror Into History
Students create poems about themselves and a famous African American. They will see that they are not so different from the great people of our past and present.
Famous African-American Fabric Portraits
Doris Metcalf, who recently retired from the Florence (Alabama) City Schools, submitted this lesson, in which students create a fabric-portrait exhibit of famous African Americans. (Grades 6-12)
The Amistad Comes to Life!
Activities across the grades and across the curriculum bring to life the story of the revolt on the Amistad.
Habari Gani? -- What's the News?
Learn about Kwanzaa, the world's fastest growing holiday, with these activities and Internet links.
Martin Luther King
Education World presents a special Martin Luther King Day archive page that includes articles, lesson ideas, books, activities, and much more.
Integrating African-American Culture & History into Your Curriculum
By Phil Nast, retired middle school teacher and freelance writer
Found In: language arts, social studies, 9-12
To help you integrate Black History Month into your classroom, we offer a selection of lesson plans that cover a variety subjects and that can be adapted to fit grades 9-12.
Lesson Plans & Activities
African American Scientists and Inventors
Students in grades K-12 learn about and celebrate the contributions of African American scientists using a link from this page to The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences.
In Motion: The African American Migration Experience
Students in grades 9-12 participate in lessons and activities organized around thirteen defining migrations that have formed and transformed African America and the nation.
Rhythm & Improv: Jazz & Poetry
Students in grades 9-12 analyze jazz music, considering sound, rhythm, and improvisation in order to identify jazz characteristics in poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, Sonia Sanchez, and Langston Hughes. They will then incorporate the elements in their own poetry.
Variation in Human Skin Color
Students in grades 9-12 explore factors controlling human skin color variation and how perceived racial differences affect human society. Student and teacher materials are included.
African American English
In this unit, students in grades 9-12 examine several hypotheses about the development of African American English (AAE), consider how AAE has been treated in schools, and analyze the influential role of AAE in modern culture and society.
The Invisible Man
Students in grades 11-12 read Ralph Ellison’s novel to explore the theme of invisibility in the book, in their own lives, and in their communities.
Smithsonian Jazz Mixer
Students in grades K-12 can explore a jazz timeline, world map, and a virtual mixer that lets them listen and observe the elements of jazz.
Notable African Americans from the 18th-century to the present
In this Jeopardy-type quiz game students in grades 5-12 can choose from three levels of difficulty to test their knowledge of famous African Americans. Spelling counts, for example Billy Holiday rather than Billie Holiday would be marked incorrect.
The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom
To play, install free software. Play as a slave escaping from a Maryland tobacco plantation.
African American History Month Exhibits & Collections
Resources covering art and design, baseball, civil rights, culture, folklife, military, music and performing arts, religion, slavery, and resource guides.
EDSITEment’s Guide to Black History Month Teaching Resources
Investigate the contributions African Americans have made in the history and cultural development of the United States.
W. E. B. Du Bois: Online Resources
Includes digital materials related to W. E .B. Du Bois and links to external Web sites.
The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Stories, interactive maps, activities and tools, and lesson plans and activities for grades 6-12.
Black Labor History
Lessons and links on the life histories of people whose struggle was part of a larger social and economic movement to improve the lives of the working class.
Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education
History, images, and other resources covering the historic Supreme Court ruling ending segregation and ensuring opportunity in education.
Africans in America
Images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries. The site provides teacher’s and youth guides. The four part series may be in local libraries.
Black History - Biography - Celebrate Black History Month & People
Biographies, timelines, photos, video, game, quiz, and 101 fast facts.
Poems to Celebrate Black History Month
Poems and articles by African-Americans.
Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
Online activities and biographies, transcripts of many interviews with musicians, K-12 lesson plans, and a music study guide for grades 5-8.
Jazz in Time
Students in grades 5-12 can read this interactive timeline about the development of jazz (about 30 minutes) and listen to imbedded audio clips.
The History of Hip-Hop
A collection of interviews from National Public Radio (NPR) that chronicle the seminal people and events in the hip-hop movement.
African American Visual Art and the Black Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement (BAM) began in the mid-1960s to provide a new vision of African Americans. This site provides images galleries a theoretical essay, timeline, and links to other online art sources. Note: the top banner links are dead but the bottom links are functional.
A brief look at the life and work of Gordon Parks, novelist poet, painter, composer, pianist, and photographer. The site includes a brief biography, image gallery, and interview video clips.
The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
African American History by region.
African Americans in Science and Technology
Links from the Library of Congress.
African American Inventors
Brief biographies of African American inventors.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: Electronic Resources for Teachers
Before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball there was Negro League Baseball. This site features history, a timeline, photos, and teacher resources, including lessons for grades 9-12.
African American Athletes
Brief biographies and film clips of outstanding African American athletes. Don’t miss the links to legal and political figures, scientists and educators, activists, artists and writers, entertainers, and musicians and singers.
Audio & Video
Science Update: Spotlight on African-American Scientists
Students in grades 6-12 can listen to interviews with a select group of black scientists working in North America today.
Blues Journey (23:17 minutes)
This four part audio series explores the history of the blues.
Legacy: Black and White in America
Compares African-American life today and that of the Civil Rights generation.
Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (68 minutes)
Considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, Faubourg Tremé is the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz. Check local listings to see when it airs on a local PBS station.
Forgotten Genius (120 minutes)
Chemist Percy Lavon Julian struggled against racism as he pursued research with steroids and alkaloids and helped to create affordable and effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and glaucoma. A teacher’s guide has student activities. (The program is in 13 chapters and can be watched online.)
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (220 minutes)
Jack Johnson was the first African American boxer to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The website includes the story of Johnson’s life and career, lesson plans for grades 9-12, and a teacher’s guide. The DVD may be available in local libraries.
African American Lives 2 (240 minutes)
This website for features clips from the series, background on the research, scholarship, and science, and resources for people to trace their own family history. Lessons for grades 6-12 are included. The DVD may be available in local libraries.
Cora Unashamed (93 minutes)
Based on Langston Hughes’ story, this film tells of a Depression-era African-American domestic who lives only for her daughter and the neglected child of her employers. The DVD may be found in local libraries.