Celebrate Black History Month with these twenty-eight ideas, one for each day of February, that recognize the heritage, accomplishments, and culture of African Americans in the United States.
1. Share with students “I, Too” by poet Langston Hughes and have a discussion about the poem’s vocabulary, rhythm, and meaning.
3. Learn How the Blues Moved the Civil Rights Movement, listen to the blues, and then invite students to compose their own 12-bar blues music.
4. Conduct a read-aloud of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, then invite students to write their own speeches about what they are inspired to change in the world.
5. Play the African counting game Mancala. To make the game board, use a large egg carton (cut off the lid) and tape an extra cup (cut from another carton) to each end.
7. See James Karales’s photographs of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches.
8. Watch this oral history of legendary bluesman Bobby Rush, King of the Chitlin’ Circuit during the Jim Crow laws era.
11. Teach about the importance of journalism as well as its limitations during the Civil Rights Movement.
12. Watch student-made digital stories on important African Americans. Divide students into groups to make their own digital stories about a person of their choice.
13. Teach students the songs of the civil rights movement, such as “This Little Light of Mine” and “Oh, Freedom.” Discuss how the lyrics reflect the defiant and hopeful spirit of the time.
14. Trace the history of the blues from its beginnings in the fields of the South to its global impact on today’s music. Visit the National Blues Museum to learn about B. B. King and other musicians.
15. Teach students about director, producer, writer, and actor Spike Lee, a successful and prolific African American filmmaker.
17. Read about Frankie Freeman, Civil Rights icon. Have your students write about we are currently in regard to race relations and racial diversity.
18. Read “A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth” by poet Maya Angelou. Then, watch a video about her inspiration for this profound piece on youth and education.
19. Learn about the history of hip-hop music, a genre that emerged in the Bronx, New York City, in 1970. Ask students to bring in examples of their favorite songs or dances to discuss.
22. In Africa, sesame seeds bring good luck. Make a delicious batch of sesame cookies with this recipe.
23. Watch Modern American Dance Company’s Freedom, inspired by Henry Hampton’s The Eyes on the Prize civil rights media collection that is housed at the Film and Media Archive at the Washington University Libraries. Have your students choreograph their own dance.
24. Watch Christopher Paul Curtis, a winner of the Newbery Medal, give advice to young authors.
25. Learn about the scientific work of African Americans with these Black History Month resources from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
26. Read excerpts from President Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope (or his Audacity of Hope speech) and discuss the importance of the election of our country’s first black president.
27. Who was the first African American tennis player to win the U.S. Open? Who was the first African American woman elected to U.S. Congress? Find out about many famous firsts in black history on Biography.
28. Take an online tour and learn about St. Louis’ impactful history in the African American struggle for civil rights at The Missouri History Museum.