Black History Month
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Black History Month officially began in 1976, when President Gerald R. Ford asked Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."¹ Every year since then, every American president has dedicated February as African American History Month.
The first celebration of African American contributions to the United States was established by the historian Carter G. Woodson. The event was held in February 1926 and was called Negro History Week. The week in February included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809) and Frederick Douglass (born in February 1818). Over the years, more Americans, black and white, joined the celebrations each February. In the 1960s, the civil rights movement further emphasized the impact of African Americans in American culture and throughout United States history.
Bring the celebration of Black History Month into your classroom with these activities, lesson plans, book resources, and interactive histories.
¹Scott, Daryl M. "February Is African American History Month." African American History Month. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2015.
Black History Month Classroom Activities
Learn more about the exceptional contributions made by African Americans with these ideas for each day of Black History Month.
Explore my top six, at-your-fingertips Scholastic resources for making Black History Month culturally relevant, inspiring, and impactful.
Here are five easy lessons and a freebie about Black History Month with trading cards, ice cream, and a long walk to freedom.
African American Icons
Students will discover history as they meet famous African Americans, explore jazz music, and much more.
Refresh black history lessons with culturally relevant images that will excite and inspire.
Teach students about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent fight for civil rights in the United States with these resources.
Students discover famous African Americans whose inventions have changed the worlds of medicine, technology, and transportation.
Students immerse themselves in the experiences and accomplishments of extraordinary African Americans by speaking as them in first person.
Meet some of the black men and women who helped shape the Old West.
One of America's first self-made female millionaires, Madame C. J. Walker, who was African American, helped style the Harlem Renaissance.
Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. was pastor of Harlem's famous Abyssinian Baptist Church for 29 years.
See historic Harlem through the eyes of photographer James Van Der Zee.
Marcus Garvey was an orator, activist, and president of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. This play illustrates his cause, as well as the controversy it inspired.
Slavery and the Underground Railroad
With this interactive slideshow, students follow the path of a slave in 1860 as he travels the Underground Railroad to freedom.
Study the Gee's Bend quilters from an art perspective and turn it into a cross-curricular learning project.
Questions for discussing characterization, conflict, and themes in this historical fiction title about the Underground Railroad.
A discussion guide for Freedom's Wings: Corey's Diary, Kentucky to Ohio, 1857 by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, part of the My America historical fiction series.
A discussion guide to I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl, Mars Bluff, South Carolina, 1865 by Joyce Hansen, part of the Dear America historical fiction series.
The Civil Rights Movement
Students capture eyewitness accounts of one of the most important movements in American history.
Use this unit plan to promote discussion about tolerance through research and study of the Civil Rights movement.
In this online activity, share the heroic story of Rosa Parks, who played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement.
Watch the film Rosa for a new look at Ms. Parks. Follow with seven subtopics to engage your class.
This read-aloud play portrays highlights from the life of Rosa Parks, the injustices that she encountered, and the day that she took a stand by remaining seated.
From the unique perspective that only a daughter could have, Sharon Robinson serves as a personal tour guide through the nine heart-felt, hard-won values that helped Jackie Robinson achieve his goals.
Lessons that teach students about the values baseball great Jackie Robinson exhibited in his career and life, and how to use these values to face barriers in their own lives. The lesson plans support the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest.
Through reading and writing activities, students explore the life of Melba Pattillo, one of the nine African American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957.
Common Core-aligned lesson plans, slide shows, Scholastic News magazine, student video, and more!
Introduce young students to the bravery of Ruby Bridges through a cross-curricular lesson that pairs civil rights history with 21st century skills.
Use the book, Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges to introduce social issues for student-led book clubs.
In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public education. Read Mr. Chief Justice Warren's announcement of the Court's decision from Scholastic GO!.
After reading statements on racial segregation from President Kennedy and Alabama Governor Wallace (June of 1963), students will answer discussion questions that challenge them to think about the issue from all sides.
Music and Cultural Influence
Inspire students with this online curriculum about the history of rock and roll and major cultural movements in American and world history.
Students will learn about jazz from its beginning in New Orleans to modern jazz today through text and audio.