Black History Month Lessons & Resources | NEA (2024)

Grades 9-12

Lesson Plans & Activities


Rhythm & Improv: Jazz & Poetry
Students ingrades 9-12analyze 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.

Teaching Hard History
These resources for middle- and high-school educators include Learning for Justice's grades 6–12 framework, as well as student-facing videos and primary source texts to help all students grasp the historical significance of slavery. Educators will also findteaching tools and professional development resources.

Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten
Through a series of video clips and activities, students can learn about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and how the community of Tulsa is coming to terms with its past, present, and future.

African American English
In this unit, students ingrades 9-12examine 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.

PBS Black History Lesson Plans
These lesson plans and resources cover topics ranging from civil rights events to discussions about race in current events. These lessons are appropriate for history, ELA and social studies classrooms.

National Museum of African American History and Culture's Learning Labs
The Smithsonian's free, interactive platform provides ways to explore well-known and lesser-known moments of history by utilizing objects, documents, imagery, and videos to enhance content knowledge, hone historical thinking skills and inspire users to see themselves as agents of change. (Free account registration required)


Notable African Americans from the 18th-century to the present
In this Jeopardy-type quiz game students ingrades 5-12can 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.

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
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


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.

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, photos and videos of notable African Americans.

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.


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-12lesson plans, and a music study guide forgrades 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.


10 Black Scientists that Science Teachers Should Know About
A list from PBS Education of some of the top Black scientists, engineers, inventors, and mathematicians that includes links to media resources to help you bring their work—and stories—into your classroom.

8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier
This blog post outlines some of the lesser-known but vital contributions of Black inventors.


Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: 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.

10 African American Pioneers in Sports
Concise biographies of Black athletes who broke barriers, represented their communities, and made history with their impressive athletic skills.



Video & Multimedia

Free Learning Resources for Black History Month (and Beyond)
Common Sense Media compiled a list of resources — including videos, texts, lessons, podcasts, and more — about activists, art and culture, inventors, engineers, historical events, and beyond.

Blues Journey(23:17 minutes)
This four part audio series explores the history of the blues.

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, a timeline, and media gallery. The DVD may be available in local libraries.

Through the Window and into the Mirror: Narratives of African American STEM Professionals
This video conversation series shares the experiences of African American STEM professionals today.


Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the Peopleby Kekla Magoon
An essential account of the Black Panthers as militant revolutionaries, social activists, and human rights advocates working to defend and protect their community.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and Youby Jason Reynolds; adapted from Stamped from the Beginning by and with an introduction from Ibram X. Kendi
Using humor and a conversational style, author Jason Reynolds deftly reworks Kendi'sStamped from the Beginning,exposing young adult readers to the history of America's racist past that textbooks leave out.

Find African American booklists from Read Across America.

Black History Month Lessons & Resources | NEA (2024)


What are 5 things about Black History Month? ›

Here are five important things to know about this meaningful commemoration:
  • It Started as a Week. In 1915, Harvard-educated historian Carter G. ...
  • Carter Woodson: The Father of Black History. ...
  • February Was Chosen for a Reason. ...
  • A Week Becomes a Month. ...
  • Honoring African-American Men and Women.
Feb 18, 2019

Where to learn about Black History Month? ›

Historical Documents & Museum
  • Primary Documents Archives-
  • Learn Center - National Civil Rights Museum.
  • The Collection- National Museum of African American History & Culture.
  • 12 Black History Museums you can Explore from Home - Momma Wanderlust.
Jan 14, 2022

What are some topics for Black History Month? ›

  • Slavery.
  • Abolition and Emancipation.
  • Reconstruction.
  • Segregation and Black Migration.
  • Civil Rights.
Aug 15, 2016

How to explain to kids why we celebrate Black History Month? ›

Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. It honors all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today.

How do you explain Black History Month to kids? ›

The month of February is Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, in the United States. It became a monthlong celebration in 1976, but the history of the celebration dates back to the 1920s. It was created to highlight the contributions Black people have made to American history and culture.

What are three facts about Black History Month? ›

11 Black history facts to commemorate Black History Month
  • Black History Month began as a week. ...
  • Thurgood Marshall was the first Black American appointed to the Supreme Court. ...
  • The first Black person to win an Oscar was... ...
  • Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday in 2021.
Jan 17, 2024

What are two black history facts? ›

Anthony Benezet, a white Quaker, abolitionist, and educator, is credited with creating the first public school for African American children in the early 1770s. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1850 with a literary degree, Lucy Stanton became the first Black woman in America to earn a four-year college degree.

What is Black History Month in a nutshell? ›

Summary. Black History Month is a monthlong focus on the Black heroes and pioneers who have shaped our world. More than that, it spotlights the importance of being an ally to marginalized communities — not for 28 days but for all 365 days in a year.

What is the learning objective of Black History Month? ›

Learning Objectives:

Students will discuss each man's vision for achieving equal rights for Black Americans. Students will draw connections between the readings and their lives to determine which strategies they might choose to create positive change in their own communities.

What are the colors for Black history? ›

The four colours that are used for Black History Month are black, red, yellow and green. Black represents resilience, red denotes blood, yellow is optimism and justice, and green symbolises rich greenery.

Who had the biggest impact on black history? ›

These leaders have also had a significant impact in shaping the world we live in today.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the most well-known civil rights leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. ...
  • Rosa Parks. ...
  • Barack Obama. ...
  • Frederick Douglass. ...
  • oprah Winfrey. ...
  • Harriet Tubman. ...
  • Medgar Evers. ...
  • Jackie Robinson.
Mar 2, 2022

What is the 2024 Black History Month theme? ›

The national theme for Black History Month 2024 is “African Americans and the Arts.” Black History Month 2024 is a time to recognize and highlight the achievements of Black artists and creators, and the role they played in U.S. history and in shaping our country today.

What is Black History Month known for? ›

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.

Why is it important to teach students about Black history? ›

The class fosters cultural understanding. Learning about African American history allows students who are not African American to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the contributions of African Americans to the world we live in today.

What do schools teach about Black history? ›

“Those topics usually center on slavery, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement,” King says. He says it's important to note that Black history is not just simply about racial history; Black history and racial history are linked and salient concepts of Black history emerge through racial history.

Why is it important to teach Black History Month? ›

During Black History Month, and beyond, it is vital to encourage equity in the classroom. We all play a role in ensuring students have a complete and accurate understanding of the past. Our country has a rich and diverse history, and it is a disservice to all learners to not teach them about the intricacies of this.


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