Education insights

15 ways to honor Black History Month in your classroom

“May those whose holy task it is to guide impulsive youth, fail not to cherish in their souls a reverence for the truth; for teachings which the lips impart must have their source within the heart.”Charlotte Forten Grimke, Black American anti-slavery activist, poet, and educator 

From Black American innovators to artists and social activists, there are a large number of people and stories to celebrate during Black History Month. But as educators lead conversations about painful aspects of the past, it’s important to remember that many of these issues remain part of the present. 

Celebrating Black history means focusing not only on history but also on ways to increase equity now and in the future. One way to expand your focus is by utilizing a variety of resources that surface ideas and stories from the past, but also highlight the work being done today.   

Whatever your subject matter, you can take part in celebrating and sharing Black history in your classroom. Here are 15 resources to help.  

  1. Learn the history of Juneteenth and why it’s now a national holiday 

In this lesson from PBS, students can explore and discuss the history and context of the Juneteenth holiday, both as a historical event and a modern remembrance.  

  1. Teach critical thinking with lessons about Selma 

These interactive lessons will help teach students to think critically and creatively about today’s continued fight for social justice. 

  1. Learn about the connection between influential Black women and NASA 

Watch and discuss the movie “Hidden Figures” to gain a better understanding of the role three Black women in the success of NASA’s human computer and space flight programs.  

  1. Learn about the untapped genius that could change science for the better  

Inspire future leaders with this video intro to Jedidah Isler, the first black woman to earn a PhD in astrophysics from Yale. 

Social Studies 
  1. Do a virtual tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Walk students through some of the digital resources available online from the Smithsonian’s museum of Black American history. 

  1. Honor and remember Nelson Mandela 

In this lesson, students will examine text from Mandela’s autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” as a way to connect with his life and words. 

  1. Watch youth reflect on race in America and Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream 

Spark conversation with these video interviews about race, Dr. King’s dream, and what students feel can be done to achieve his dream. 

  1. Highlight local Black leaders 

Research and highlight Black leaders from your local government, university, corporate executive leadership, or non-profits. Invite them to speak to your class or school assembly, if appropriate. 

  1. Share these talks to celebrate Black History Month 

Begin or end class with one of these TED Talks on Black history, art, and culture. 

English & Speech 
  1. Analyze Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech as a work of literature 

In this lesson, students will study Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and discuss its rhetorical influences and oratorical devices, as well as how speeches compare to other literary forms. 

  1. Learn how to think critically about information sources while studying the 1965 marches 

This lesson will teach students about critical thinking when sourcing information, through exploring the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

  1. Read a children’s book  

Deepen students’ understanding of history and social issues with these 10 children’s books about the Black American experience, accompanied by teaching guides. 

Fine Arts 
  1. Explore art and movement inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series 

This arts and inquiry-based lesson centers on a single panel painting by artist Jacob Lawrence from his 60-panel work, The Migration Series (1940–1941). 

Students will engage in a “close reading” of this visual media through artmaking, careful observation, and analysis. 

  1. Learn about the history of Stepping and create a routine 

Watch videos of various routines and encourage students to create their own unique step routine to honor this deep-rooted tradition.  

  1. Analyze Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech as visual text 

In this lesson from PBS, students can examine why Dr. King’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement and explain their analysis through a drawing. 

Black history isn’t just for February 

Teaching students the facts and context surrounding the experience of Black Americans is an important step toward creating a more equitable future. This work doesn’t have to be limited to February. Use these Black History Month resources as a starting point to facilitate thought-provoking conversations throughout the school year.  

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