February is Black History Month. It’s the perfect opportunity to discuss the Civil Rights movement with students and the impact that Black History has left on America. But what if we approached teaching it a different way? Most students are educated on the legacies left behind by those such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and even Ruby Bridges. But there are so many more influential individuals of the African American community who paved the way for equality in America. Teaching Black History should not be confined to a single month, but rather a yearly curriculum.
Subject Integration with Black History Month
Many African Americans made great contributions to Math, Science, Reading, Writing, and Social Studies. So why not educate students on the influential members of the African American communities in their respective subject areas? Studying biographies can be taught all year long! It’s important to dedicate a specific month to Black History and the many accomplishments made, but the best way to show honor is by integrating Black History into classroom subjects all school year.
Pies from Nowhere
One lesser-known, yet still, impactful member of the Civil Rights movement was Georgia Gilmore. Gilmore helped to sustain the Montgomery Bus Boycott by selling pies and cakes to support the cause. The story of Georgia and the difference she made greatly impacted me. I moved to Montgomery in 1969, after the bus boycott ended, but the Civil Rights Movement was still underway. Fun Fact: Georgia actually lived about two miles down the road from me, so this story hits close to home.
I loved the story so much, I created a product based on the picture book, Pies from Nowhere. Georgia not only impacted me but many others as well. While February is a great time for students to learn more about Black History, this resource can be used anytime during the year. Students will match vocabulary words and definitions, summarize, and analyze the story and life of Georgia Gilmore.
Unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement
While I love for students to study Harriet Tubman, there are so many other unsung heroes who made outstanding contributions to freedom and equality for African Americans. Those such as, Dr. Patricia Bath, Raye Montague, Robert Smalls, and Arturo Schomburg who curated and built the Black Culture collection at the New York Public Library just to name a few. Robert Small bravely escaped slavery and would make a great biography activity for students to complete. You hear little about these names, but nevertheless, students should be aware of all the sacrifices made by those involved in The Civil Rights Movement.
I have a list of 20 great picture books about Lesser-Known Figures in Black History. You can access it in my Resource Library.
Ways to Share Black History Month
While you may love the idea of teaching students about Black History month all year long, you may be wondering how to actually implement it into your classroom. There are SO many possibilities as far as this is concerned. Use my Pies from Nowhere study in small reading groups and even whole group instruction. Draw students into learning using picture books and real-life stories. Trust me, it will capture their interest! For digital learning, use Black History websites and even historical WebQuests to engage ALL learners.
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