By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki
The history of African Americans is an integral part of the United States’ traditions, encompassing exemplary leaders, justice advocates, artists and innovators that have contributed to the nation over more than four centuries of evolution.
It’s a time when the nation remembers important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout US history, and recognizes how important Black history is to the drama of the American story. Organizations, cities and states host events throughout February to educate society on the rich culture and memorable figures of African American history.
Why is Black History Month Important?
This annual remembrance grew out of “Negro History Week,” started in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. It was designated as a full-month event by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 because he said the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of African Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The name has evolved with the changing times.
Over more than 400 years, many generations of African Americans have struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society, and have contributed richly to the fabric of American society.
This annual time of remembrance is deeply meaningful for the African American community, but also imperative for the greater understanding of national and world history. It’s a history that’s dynamic, so every year there are new stories to tell.
Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
Black History Month 2018 Theme
Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2018 theme is “African Americans in Times of War,” chosen because it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honors the roles that black Americans have played in warfare, from the American Revolution to the present day.
Curriki Black History Month Resources
Here are some resources for your classroom, offering a variety of materials for all ages:
- Black History and Science – Read the scientific work of African Americans and explore issues of race with this collection of Science NetLinks resources. Students can learn about the diversity of people working in the scientific community, discuss stereotypes, and follow the careers of prominent African Americans in the STEM fields.
- Black History Month Videos – Black History Month Videos by Educational Videos for Students includes biographies of famous black Americans such as Harriett Tubman, Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Sojourner Truth.
- Civil Rights Movement – Civil Rights Movement for Kids teaches about Brown vs Board of Education, the 14th Amendment and Black History and more. Voices of Struggle- The Civil Rights movement, 1945 to 1965 uses audio and video to tell the story of the Civil Rights movement in America. This resource features incredible photos you won’t see anywhere else, s well as interesting music clips.
- African American Culture – Get immersed in African American culture with Say It Loud African American Spoken Word, which features an excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, an interview with W.E.B. Du Bois, who was intellectual leader and political activist, and a poetry reading by Sonia Sanchez, a well-known artist of the Black Arts Movement.
And even more …
You’ll find much of what you need for the entire month in EDSITEment’s Guide to Black History Month Teaching Resources on Curriki. It includes a wide range of vetted multimedia resources to understand and appreciate the history of African Americans in the United States, featuring some of the most influential voices and the most memorable images in all of American history and culture.
Visit Curriki’s African American History collection for even more gems.
Here are some resources outside of Curriki that can help you gain understanding of the meaning behind Black History Month:
- African American History Month website
- Smithsonian Education – Black History Month
- National Park Service – African American Heritage
- History.com Black History Month
- National Geographic Black History Month
Sources: African American History Month website, Smithsonian Education, History.com and Curriki partners
Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.
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