Why Do We Celebrate Black History Month?
Updated: Feb 16
It is 2023, y'all.
Modern (or as some would say "woke") students are typically grateful when we keep it real with them-- so be sure you share why black history is all of our history.
Below I will share why it’s importing to celebrate Black History and include a quick YouTube video and viewing guide freebie to help you ease into it + a few ways to incorporate Black History activities into the classroom for middle and high school students.
The History of Black History Month
Black History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of African Americans in the history of the United States. Despite making up a significant part of the country's history, the stories of African Americans have often been overlooked or underrepresented in mainstream education.
This is why Carter G. Woodson started Black History Month nearly 100 years ago, to bring attention to the important contributions African Americans have made to the country's history, culture, and society. It is important to learn about diverse groups of people who have made history, because it helps us gain a more complete and inclusive understanding of our shared American heritage.
BUT Why Do We Celebrate Black History Month?
Black History Month serves as a reminder of the significance of African American history and the impact that black people have had on shaping our country. Oftentimes, students don't know much of anything relating to black history because of the way the education system is shaped.
While it is common to focus on European explorers, inventors, and authors, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Ronald Dahl, it is equally important to recognize the achievements of African Americans and other minority groups.
In terms of black history, we learn about slavery (the parts they want us to learn about), MLK, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, George Washington Carver. But what else? Maybe Michael Jackson or Barack Obama if your school is feeling really spunky.
As teachers, it is important to educate our students on the diversity of American history and to celebrate the contributions of all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or background. Every February, especially in schools, we ought to celebrate African Americans who have made a difference in our society. By learning about these trailblazers and their achievements, we can gain a deeper understanding of the rich and diverse history of our country and how it has shaped us into the nation we are today.
Please understand that:
Black students deserve to see themselves reflected in the history we share.
Non-black students need to see that there's others who have contributed to the history of this Great Nation.
Black students deserve for non-traumatic stories, black wins, black love, black joy, black voices be amplified in the school setting.
Non-black students need non-traumatic stories, black wins, black love, black joy, black voices be amplified in the school setting.
Black students deserve to see that their country is attempting to appreciate and understand that they are see as black and still loved.
Non-black students need to see that their country is attempting to appreciate and understand that they are see as black and still loved.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to help our students understand the importance of Black History Month and the significance of diversity in our history.
Whether through reading books, researching historical figures, or watching movies that amplify black voices, we can help our students to appreciate the rich and diverse history of our country and to celebrate the achievements of all people, regardless of their background.
Here's some of my favorite Black History Month Activities. Be sure to check out this link to check these out and grab the freebie!
I also have all of these below listed on my website. You can get them all for free with a free trial to my VIP monthly membership or purchase them individually.
Here's 5 Ways You Can Celebrate Black History Month With Your Students
Incorporate African American history into your curriculum: Take the opportunity to integrate African American history into your daily lessons. This can be done for any subject: teach math-- check out some black mathematicians. teach science-- there's black scientists and inventors. Teach business and marketing-- there's black business owners and content creators. Teach art-- there's black artists, dancers, musicians. Get creative. Showcase black greatness.
Read African American literature: Encourage your students to read works by African American authors and discuss the themes and messages in the books.
Organize a field trip: Visit a local museum or cultural center dedicated to African American history to help your students understand the rich heritage of African Americans.
Host a discussion panel: Invite prominent African Americans from the community to speak to your students about their experiences and to share their perspectives on important issues.
Engage in service learning: Encourage your students to get involved in community service projects that celebrate and support the African American community, such as volunteering at a local community center or participating in a clean-up project in a historically African American neighborhood.
If you are wondering how to start the conversation, I have this YouTube video and use this free activity to start the conversations about why we celebrate Black History Month.
There's a Google Form for students to complete while they watch to check for comprehension, as well as open ended questions at the end.
At the end have a conversation with students about what they've learned in the past about Black History to see what they remember (or if they've never learned anything at all).
Conversations are a perfect way to gauge what students know, then it'll allow you to transition into implementing black history into your classroom.