Weekly Warm-Up: Five Ways to Teach Black History Month

February is the month when we celebrate the rich history of the African diaspora and honor the brave men and women who fought for the civil rights of African Americans.

National Geographic Education has a great collection of resources to help educators teach this important topic to students of all backgrounds.

Here are five highlights from the growing collection.

1. PROFILES IN BLACK HISTORY

Mary Jane Seacole (1805-1881) Photograph © Mary Evans Picture Library 2008

Mary Seacole was a Jamaican-born adventurer whose travels took her from the Caribbean to Panama to the Black Sea to England.
Photograph © Mary Evans Picture Library 2008

Read inspiring profiles of African Americans, from pioneering modern explorers to innovative artists to historic figures like Mary Seacole, the nurse/businesswoman/author/war heroine your students have probably never heard of.

2. MARCH INTO HISTORY

The March on Washington was organized just months in advance, largely by Bayard Rustin, an experienced civil rights activist, and his team of 200 volunteers. There were some last-minute changes to the program—Marian Anderson was unable to arrive on time and was replaced by fellow operatic soprano Camilla Williams; Myrlie Evers, scheduled to deliver a “Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom,” was also unable to attend and the tribute was delivered by Rustin; and Floyd McKissick spoke in place of CORE leader James Farmer, who was in jail for organizing civil-rights protests in Louisiana. Photograph courtesy National Archives and Records Administration

The March on Washington was organized just months in advance, largely by Bayard Rustin, an experienced civil rights activist, and his team of 200 volunteers. There were some last-minute changes to the program—Marian Anderson was unable to arrive on time and was replaced by fellow operatic soprano Camilla Williams; Myrlie Evers, scheduled to deliver a “Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom,” was also unable to attend and the tribute was delivered by Rustin; and Floyd McKissick spoke in place of CORE leader James Farmer, who was in jail for organizing civil-rights protests in Louisiana.
Photograph courtesy National Archives and Records Administration

Take a look at the 1963 March on Washington with our great photo gallery and standards-aligned instructional content. There was more to the march than keynote speaker Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech—learn more about civil rights leaders, the geographic context of the march, its place in the larger civil rights movement, and the impact of the First Amendment.

Then relive the drama of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches through an article documenting how the 54-mile walk led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

3. REENACT HISTORY

Four “regular” units of African American soldiers served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Photograph by Robert Stanley, National Geographic My Shot

Four “regular” units of African American soldiers served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Photograph by Robert Stanley, National Geographic My Shot

Discover the fascinating stories of five people with five very different life experiences and one goal: to bring the American Civil War to life in the 21st century.

4. LET HISTORY GO UNDERGROUND

landing_pageUse our award-winning interactive experience to introduce your class to the Underground Railroad. (Remember, some students think it was an actual subterranean transportation route!) The Underground Railroad interactive lets students navigate important events, dates, and people involved in the movement.

Use the interactive’s educator guide to engage students in a variety of settings, both in and out of the classroom.

5. MAKE HISTORY—JOIN THE COMMUNITY

Tobias McCovery, Kendarius Burgess, and Linh Phan, AP students at Ben C. Rain High School in Mobile, Alabama, collaborate to map sites of proposed Civil Rights monuments using National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive. Photograph by Angela Crawford

Tobias McCovery, Kendarius Burgess, and Linh Phan, AP students at Ben C. Rain High School in Mobile, Alabama, collaborate to map sites of proposed Civil Rights monuments using National Geographic’s Mapmaker Interactive. Photograph by Angela Crawford

Our educators are already incorporating Black History Month into their curricula. This Alabama teacher, for instance, engages her students with a project-based unit on civil rights memorials. The project incorporates texts such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letters from a Birmingham Jail,” history and civics research, and original maps.

In an completely different experience, this Indiana teacher uses our Underground Railroad interactive to introduce students to the Fugitive Slave Law, the Underground Railroad, and the Civil War.

Do you have great ideas for Black History Month—or any other time of year? We’d love to hear about them! Contact us here.

Former Nat Geo Education social media guru Sarah Jane Caban wrote this post back in 2012, and it’s even more relevant today!

One response to “Weekly Warm-Up: Five Ways to Teach Black History Month

  1. Pingback: Nat Geo Education Blog·

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