During Black History Month, educators are encouraged to go beyond surface-level teaching and delve into the difficult–and often uncomfortable–experiences of Black people in the U.S. and around the world.
In the middle of civil rights campaigns and protests calling for racial equality, educators can take this opportunity to talk with students of all ages about the realities surrounding racism, equal rights, privilege, and bias.
Perhaps one of the most important “do’s” is this: Don’t limit your teaching of Black history to the month of February.
Often, educators can be a bit unsure of where to start as they approach Black history education. The following resources offer insights and resources on how to educate students and adults about Black history.
1. The Center for Racial Justice in Education has an amazingly vast list of resources for educators and students. Topics range from curriculum and lesson plans, the underrepresentation of Black stories and history in school, teaching Black Lives Matter in school, and more.
2. In “Black history is bigger than slavery. We should teach kids accordingly,” Raluca Albu writes that “we need to broaden what is considered important to impart to our students so that the default history of America isn’t a white, male one–a view reflected in the racially-biased policing, violent hate crimes and the absurd resistance to permanently bringing down the Confederate flag, which all plays out beyond the classroom daily.”
3. Systemic racism explained: Systemic racism affects every area of life in the US. From incarceration rates to predatory loans, and trying to solve these problems requires changes in major parts of our system. Act.tv takes a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.
4. The Green Book: The Black Travelers’ Guide to Jim Crow America: Expose students to a reality of daily life they may not have considered. For nearly 30 years, a guide called the “Negro Motorist Green Book” provided African Americans with advice on safe places to eat and sleep when they traveled through the Jim Crow-era United States.
5. Make inclusion and anti-racism a daily topic: We Are Teachers offers lessons plans to create inclusive communities and combat racism. “What we love about this unit is how it centers on narratives,” the site says. “Students have the opportunity to look at the origins and history of narratives about people across ethnicities and racialized religious groups, and consider their relationship to implicit bias and racism. It also offers young people powerful counter-narratives and ways they can act to counter racism.”
6. What is Juneteenth, and why is it so important? In the most remote corners of the Confederacy, news of slavery’s end did not come until more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19, 1865, General Order No. 3 was delivered to the people of Galveston, Texas, officially freeing the last enslaved people in the United States. The Root explores the history and continued significance of Juneteenth.
7. Virtual exhibits: Eight Online Exhibits to See Right Now on Black History, Racism and Protest: Here’s a way to get up close with exhibitions focusing on Black history, racism, protests, and other critical topics.
8. Not all students have access to streaming services and cable, but for those who do and are interested, there are documentaries and films available. On Netflix, Ava DuVernay’s “13th” examines the role of race in the nation’s justice system. Available on DVD or on a variety of digital platforms, “John Lewis: Good Trouble” is a documentary about the late U.S. Representative’s life. Samuel L. Jackson narrates “I Am Not Your Negro” on Netflix. The documentary takes a look at the history of racism and the role of civil rights leaders in the U.S.
9. Kids Discover, a provider of high-interest nonfiction for social studies and science, has partnered with Rhino Records, the catalog division of Warner Music Group, to celebrate Black History Month by releasing three free units honoring classic Atlantic Records artists Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin as well as Curtom Records’ Curtis Mayfield. Each of these units, featuring music, original album art, and more, will be freely available on the Kids Discover website for the entire month of February.
10. In preparation for several upcoming significant historical, cultural and societal events, the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration has curated a list of live, interactive virtual field trips that educators can access to enrich discussions surrounding Black History Month. Whether educators wish to celebrate African-American sports or take a deep dive into the Underground Railroad, educators will find an extensive list of programming experiences to reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in shaping US history.
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