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Activity

Black History Month Lessons & Resources

Integrating African-American Culture & History into Your Curriculum
Martin Luther King Jr memorial in Washington DC Sergii Figurnyi - stock.adobe.com
Published: 12/16/2020

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 multiple grade levels.

Grades K-5

Lesson Plans & Activities

LESSON PLANS

Musical Harlem
In this 3-5 lesson, students will learn about the Harlem Renaissance and create original jazz artwork. They will listen to audio samples, analyze elements of jazz, research musicians, and learn how jazz became a unifier between community and culture.

Jazz Music, Dance, and Poetry
In this 3-5 lesson, students will explore jazz music and dance, then write a jazz-inspired cinquain poem. They will build their background on the history of jazz and its use of improvisation to demonstrate jazz dance movements.

Celebrate African American Heritage
Lessons, activities, and resources for grades K-5.

ACTIVITIES

Culture & Change: Black History in America
Students in grades 3-4 can read about Rosa Parks, Melba Pattillo, and ten African American men and women and their inventions. They can view an interview with author Christopher Paul Curtis and listen to a history of jazz with Wynton Marsalis, and take a virtual journey on the Underground Railroad.

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.

Background Resources

SOCIAL STUDIES

The Awakening of Norman Rockwell This article examines Norman Rockwell’s career and how his painting, The Problem We All Live With, for the January 14, 1964 issue of Look magazine was a turning point in this career and reflected his unexpected politicization in the 1960s.

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.

W. E. B. Du Bois: Online Resources
Includes digital materials related to W. E .B. Du Bois and links to external Web sites.

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.

ARTS

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.

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.

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
African American History by region.

SCIENCE

African Americans in Science and Technology
Links from the Library of Congress.

African American Inventors
Brief biographies of African American inventors.

SPORT

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.

Quizzes

Printables

Video

Legacy: Black and White in America
Compares African-American life today and that of the Civil Rights generation.

The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords (86 minutes)
The site provides a timeline, transcript of the film, interactive activities, lesson plans for grades 3-4, biographies of past journalists and interviews with modern journalists. The DVD may be available in local libraries.

Black History Month STEM Resources
Annotated links from eGFI.

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.

Grades 6-8

Lesson Plans & Activities

LESSON PLANS

In Motion: The African American Migration Experience
Students in grades 6-8 participate in lessons and activities organized around thirteen defining migrations that have formed and transformed African America and the nation.

Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series: Removing the Mask
Students in grades 6-8 analyze and compare visual and poetic works by Jacob Lawrence, Helene Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar and consider how they represent changing roles of African Americans.

The Poet’s Voice: Langston Hughes and You
Students in grades 6-8 investigate “voice” in Hughes’s poetry, develop their own distinctive voices in journal entries, and write an original poem or critical essay on an aspect of Hughes’s poetic voice.

The Illusion of Race
Students in grades 6-8 investigate both genetic and societal consequences of the often-artificial and evolving classifications of race and ethnicity. Student and teacher materials are included.

ACTIVITIES

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
The Underground Railroad was the network used by enslaved black Americans to obtain their freedom in the 30 years before the Civil War (1860-1865).

Background Resources

SOCIAL STUDIES

The Awakening of Norman Rockwell 
This article examines Norman Rockwell’s career and how his painting, The Problem We All Live With, for the January 14, 1964 issue of Look magazine was a turning point in this career and reflected his unexpected politicization in the 1960s.

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.

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.

ARTS

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.

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.

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
African American History by region.

SCIENCE

African Americans in Science and Technology
Links from the Library of Congress.

African American Inventors
Brief biographies of African American inventors.

SPORT

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.

Quizzes

Printables

Audio & Video

AUDIO

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.

VIDEO

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.

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.

Grades 9-12

Lesson Plans & Activities

LESSON PLANS

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.

ACTIVITIES

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
The Underground Railroad was the network used by enslaved black Americans to obtain their freedom in the 30 years before the Civil War (1860-1865).

Background Resources

SOCIAL STUDIES

The Awakening of Norman Rockwell 
This article examines Norman Rockwell’s career and how his painting, The Problem We All Live With, for the January 14, 1964 issue of Look magazine was a turning point in this career and reflected his unexpected politicization in the 1960s.

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.

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.

ARTS

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.

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.

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
African American History by region.

SCIENCE

African Americans in Science and Technology
Links from the Library of Congress.

African American Inventors
Brief biographies of African American inventors.

SPORT

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.

Quizzes

Printables

Audio & Video

AUDIO

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.

VIDEO

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.

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.

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