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Culture and Change: Black History in America

Students will discover history as they meet famous African Americans, explore jazz music, and much more.


3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Activity Type

  • Computer Lab Activities

The Culture and Change: Black History in America student activity offers an in-depth look into the African American experience, featuring interviews, historical sketches, and interactive activities. Students learn about African Americans who've made a difference, study the civil rights movement and the concept of racism, and explore the history of jazz music. The various parts of this activity can be used together or independently.

  • Rosa Parks: How I Fought for Civil Rights (grades 5–12) describes Parks' pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helps students understand the importance of every individual citizen in a democracy.
  • Integrating Central High: The Melba Pattillo Story (grades 5–12) shares the terrifying stories of Patillo and eight other teens becoming the first African American students to attend Central High more than fifty years ago, putting a face on victims of racism and promoting empathy with students.
  • Read about Famous African American Inventors (grades 3–4), including the inventors of "the real McCoy," the Super Soaker, the personal computer, and a surgical tool that revolutionized eye surgery.
  • Read and explore slide shows and an interactive magazine issue in Ruby Bridges: A Simple Act of Courage (grades PreK-8), which tells the inspirational story of a six-year-old who integrated her New Orleans elementary school by herself in 1960.
  • Travel back in time to 1860 and experience the harrowing journey of millions of enslaved African Americans in The Underground Railroad: Escape From Slavery, an activity that includes slideshows, primary sources, and many personal stories of these brave African Americans.
  • Study an important cultural contribution with The History of Jazz (grades 3–12), which follows the musical genre from its birth in New Orleans to the jazz of today.

Learning Objectives

By participating in the grade-appropriate activities that are part of "Culture and Change: Black History in America," students will:

  • Gain insight into African American history from slavery to the civil rights movement
  • Learn about individual people who shaped history by reading their biographies and researching the age in which they lived
  • Understand the causes and effects of the civil rights movement in America
  • Study the history of jazz music to gain awareness of the cultural contributions made by different groups in America
  • Build nonfiction literacy skills as they read web articles for details and use a timeline to obtain information
  • Apply critical thinking skills to answer questions regarding controversial events related to the civil rights movement

Susan Cheyney

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