Black History Month is here at last! With Cory Booker and Kamala Harris announcing their bid for the presidency in 2020, African Americans have a lot to look forward to in the next 20 months. But the significance of their run would be lost if we don’t heed the Black History lessons of the past.
We’ve pulled together 28 Black History Lessons (activities and resources) that will allow you to celebrate the achievements of African Americans this month and all year long.
1. Tell Them Why Black History Month Matters
Year after year, we have to uphold the argument of why there should be a black history month.
But before we can educate the world about why we matter and why our history matters, we must educate our kids on why they matter.
Explore the origins of Black History Month and why is it necessary? History.com is a great place to start this journey with your children.
2. Explain Our History Through Family Reading
Reading together as a family can be a great bonding experience. So select a few age-appropriate books that will explain the struggle and the civil rights movement to your kids. Furthermore, by reading together, you’ll be able to break down certain aspects of the movement.
Here are a few that I particularly like:
White Socks Only By Evelyn Coleman
Synopsis: “In the segregated south, a young girl thinks that she can drink from a fountain marked “Whites Only” because she is wearing her white socks.”
I Have a Dream (Book & CD) by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Bernice A. King:
Synopsis: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing ‘I Have a Dream’ speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”
The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
Synopsis: “The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her.”
Click Here for a great list of more books.
3. Discuss Your Own Family History
Take out family photo albums and share pictures of your family: grandparents, great aunt and uncles, cousins and more. Facebook is also a great place to find pictures of family. Discuss family history, where you grew up, where your family is from, etc.
4. Get a Firsthand Account of the Pre-Civil Rights Era
Ask a parent, relative or family friend to share their experiences of growing up during the Jim Crow era and before Civil Rights legislation was initiated. Ask them to share the differences between how kids are growing up now and how they grew up. What can they share about the struggles and sacrifices that gave us the freedoms we enjoy today? Do they feel we have more work to do?
5. Take your kids to local Black History Month Events
Search on the internet for Black History Month events in your area and make a plan to attend. Public libraries, museums and community centers are always great places to search for these types of events.
6. Visit Black History Sites
This may or may not require a day trip to travel to historic civil rights sites, but what an awesome trip it would be. We live outside of Atlanta, where there is a plethora of civil rights museums and monuments in Georgia and the surrounding states. Search the Internet for sites near you and make a plan to visit them with the family.
7. Review the Legends of Excellence Black History Collection
This Black History collection presents a continuing theme of overcoming obstacles in pursuit of achieving excellence through the examples set by the 10 individuals who are featured in the collection. It contains a DVD and poster and also a guide that can be used by parents, teachers to facilitate the learning.
8. Take a Virtual Tour of Famous Civil Rights Monuments
Without ever leaving your home, you and your kids can tour the most important places to the American Civil Rights movement by taking this virtual tour.
Here’s a list of 10 Great Places to Retrace the Civil Rights Movement. Check out each place online and discuss important events that occurred at these landmarks—lunch counters, bus stops, schools and churches. This list also gives you some travel resources for great black history experiences.
9. Address the Black Lives Matter Movement and Current-Day Protesting
How do you talk to your kids about the complex issues facing our society? For many parents, they are left at a loss.
Black Fathers Incorporated founder Kenneth Braswell was no different. He found himself unable to give an age-appropriate answer to a question about the Black Lives Matter protests posed to him by his then 6-year-old son. So, at the suggestion of a friend, he decided to formulate his 6-year-old answer in the form of a children’s book. Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside gives parents an opportunity to open up the dialogue of healthy protest.
10. Discuss Famous Black Inventors
11. Learn About African American Firsts
From Thurgood Marshall to President Barack Obama, let’s celebrate African American firsts. BlackPast.org has assembled a list, which provides the names of the first African Americans in a variety of areas of achievement. I think the beauty of this list it that it encourages others to follow in their footsteps.
12. Learn the Black National Anthem
Why did “Lift Every Voice and Sing” become the black national anthem, what are the words to this song,and who wrote it. Answer these questions and learn more about the song that is now known as the Black National Anthem here.
13. Read and Discuss Black Literature
Check out this list of 10 African American Authors that Everyone Should Read. Select one of their books to read for Black History Month.
And here are 30 classic books to inspire African-American kids
14. Learn Your Genealogy
Researching your family background is so important, but it can also make the family stronger. It’s not just about learning about the past. It’s about building stronger relationships in the present because you are discovering a shared past. Learning about your family history provides you with as sense of well-being, and it truly makes the family stronger and more connected.
15. Follow the Underground Railroad Path
Learn about the Harriet Tubman and the Underground railroad with this list of historical sites to visit.
16. Discuss the Importance of Entrepreneurship
Throughout history, African American entrepreneurs have played major parts in shaping the community and initiating change. And in modern times, their effect is no less influential. Recirculating black consumer dollars back into black businesses helps to build up our communities and establish our power.
Help your kids understand the importance of entrepreneurship to the black community. Explore this list of Famous Black Entrepreneurs.
Who are the entrepreneurs in your family?
17. Test Your Knowledge of Black History
Test your Knowledge of Black History by taking the following quizzes:
18. Understand Why Separate is NOT Equal
Learn all about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education and how it marked a turning point in the history of race relations in the United States.
19. Read Poems That Celebrate Black History
From Maya Angelou to Langston Hughes, here’s a list of poems that will help you celebrate black culture.
20. Celebrate Modern Day Achievers
The EBONY POWER 100 list celebrates the world’s most inspiring African Americans. Who is a modern day achiever in your life?
21. Get Inspired by Popular African American Quotes
Read inspirational quotes by famous African American leaders. Find a few to print and keep around your home. Click here for a list of a few great quotes.
22. Black History Month Coloring Pages
This is a great activity for the younger kids. They may be too young to grasp some of these lessons on our black history, but establishing a face recognition of some of our key historical figures is a great place to start for these little ones.
Click here or search Google for some color pages of icons like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, President Barack Obama.
23. Watch a Video of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech”
Many of us have read the speech or heard the speech in short snippets. But to achieve the full weight and magnitude of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” you must watch the some of the actual video.
24. Learn Something New
Check out these 10 Little Known Black History Facts that will expand your knowledge about black history.
25. Complete a Black History Jigsaw Puzzle
What a perfect way to spend time with the entire family during Black History Month? Completing a Black History jigsaw puzzle together can be a great bonding experience.
26. Go on a Black History Month Scavenger Hunt
This is a great way to hone your internet research skills and teach your kids some history. Do a deep dive online for amazing black history lessons. Plus making it a competition between siblings can up the ante on the excitement of learning about their history. Click here for how to create a Black History Month scavenger hunt.
27. Explore Black Art
The fine arts usually doesn’t get enough credit in our classrooms, so you know the black artists are most likely to get next to no mention. Educate your children about some of our great black artists. Here’s a great list from Biography.com.
Furthermore, this can lead to a deeper conversation with your kids. Many of the artists have works that spark political and social discussion along with their aesthetic interpretations.
28. Prepare for the next generation
Watch our movie Generation One: The Search for Black Wealth. Generation One takes a hard look at the numbers, giving historical context to early wealth creation in the black community and tapping the expertise of the nation’s top financial experts to weigh in not only on how blacks fell behind, but it also provides surefire strategies families can implement to begin building a strong financial legacy for generations to come. Read our pledge for generational wealth with the entire family.
While we appreciate the fact that we have an “official” month to observe black history, we know that we should not limit our efforts to learn about our history to just one month. We want you to make learning about black history an on-going part of your educational endeavors.
BMWK – Please help us add to this list, leave a comment below if you know of great people and/or resources that we should add.
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Editor’s Note: BMWK originally published this post on January 29, 2017. We have updated it for quality and relevancy.