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 is the essential question of black history? ›

Questions for you to consider: ● What motivated African Americans to fight in the Civil War ● What were the limits of the Emancipation Proclamation ● What were White Americans' and White politicians' concerns regarding the Black response to the Civil War?

What is the best way to learn about black history? ›

The Many Ways to Learn Black History
  • Classes, Teachings and Lesson Plans:
  • Books & Collections:
  • Articles and Resources:
  • Podcasts:
  • Videos:
  • Roots and Records Searching Resources.
  • Historical Documents & Museum.
Jan 14, 2022

What are 2 important facts about Black History Month? ›

It was first celebrated during the second week of February in 1926 to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass (February 14). In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded to a month.

What are 3 things about Black History Month? ›

Black History Month celebrates African Americans' history, contributions, and achievements. Almost 100 years ago, Black History Month began as a weeklong event. It's now a month-long celebration that takes place every February. Black history embraces the 400-year-long record of Black life in America.

What are three Black history facts? ›

William Tucker, son of indentured servants from Great Britain, was the first recorded African child to be born in the colonies in 1624. Vermont was the first colony to ban slavery in 1777. In the 1770s, a Quaker named Anthony Benezet created the first school for African American children.

What is the most important moment in Black history? ›

13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865). Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

What should we learn from Black History Month? ›

Black History Month is an opportunity to understand Black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight Black achievement. This year's theme is African Americans and the Arts.

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.

What to talk about during Black History Month? ›

Here are a few suggested topics for your panel discussion:
  • Racial justice.
  • Civil rights.
  • Equity and equality.
  • Cultural traditions.
  • Black achievements throughout history.
  • Social justice.

How to acknowledge Black History Month at school? ›

Celebrate: Highlight achievements and contributions, including pre-colonial history and profiles of contemporary figures your students will recognize from politics, education, pop culture, sports, or other areas. While historicizing is important, avoid focusing solely on slavery and Jim Crow.

What can I talk about for Black History Month? ›

7 Black History Month topic ideas

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. Stereotypes and microaggressions. The history and impact of Black culture. The history of hip hop.

What is the most important thing about 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.

What questions should I ask a civil rights activist? ›

How and why did you become active in the Civil Rights Movement? What did you do during the Civil Rights movement? Was violence or repression ever directed against you personally? What did the Southern Freedom Movement mean to you?


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