February is Black History Month in the United States. Now more than ever it is important to be sure that lessons around Black history are culturally responsive, encourage critical thinking, and explore more elements than just slavery and segregation. We have compiled a list of 5 tips here, and highly encourage you to explore the links and resources below to see what other educators and experts have to say.
Teach black history all year.
Black history is history, and those stories and timelines should be taught alongside the other historical figures and events students are learning about. For example, when teaching world history, be sure to mention that Africa was a global power in the 14th century and up until the transatlantic slave trade and had empires like the Aksum empire that rivaled the Greek and roman empires.
Expand beyond social studies.
Black people and culture have shaped every part of our modern world. Be sure to highlight the brilliant Black minds that have discovered, built, created, and founded so many things in our world.
Highlight more historical and modern figures
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Harriet Tubman and undoubtedly important figures in American history, but so are Malcom X, Mary Jackson, Amanda Gorman, and so many others. Taking time to highlight and discuss prominent and important Black figures across subjects and time offer more opportunities for students to connect with and understand more about Black history.
Teach about current events too
History is being made every day. Not only are current events and movements like Black Lives Matter important to teach and discuss, but they are vital to understanding how history has shaped our current world. Things like slavery, segregation, and racial discrimination and violence have had lasting impacts that are still felt today by the black community and other minority groups. Teaching Black history and how it has shaped current events helps students have a deeper understanding of our world and offers context to what inequities are still in place today.
Teach stories of empowerment
Slavery, inequality, and discrimination are important parts of Black history, but Black history is so much more than oppression and injustice. It is also a history rich in culture, achievement, collaboration, resilience, and strength. Teaching beyond the heart-breaking realities of the slave trade, the mistreatment of slaves, Jim Crow laws, and the KKK are important for representation and understanding. Be sure to discuss the lives and cultures of the people before they forced into the slave trade, the way these cultures came together to form a new culture, the many protests and struggles for equality, and the numerous and important contributions Black people have made to the arts, sciences, and society.
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