When teaching my children history, I always try to find the black presence and contribution in whatever time period or historic event we’re studying. I want them to know that Black people are a significant part of American History and that there really is no American History without Black History. Therefore Black History should be taught within the context of American History year-round and should not be relegated to footnotes or one month out of the year.
Here are 3 reasons my children and I learn Black History year-round.
- It’s important to me that my black children learn that our history didn’t begin in America with slavery but on the continent of Africa. As people of African descent, I want them to understand the beautiful, rich history of Africa. My children have enjoyed learning about people like Mansa Musa, Queen Njinga, Hatshepsut, and Shaka Zulu.
- Learning history from the perspective of people that look like us helps us connect with history in a more personal way. It makes us proud and inspires us. It gives us a greater appreciation for the sacrifices made by our ancestors so that we could have the freedoms that we enjoy today.
- It helps provide context and a deeper understanding of current events and the issues of today. Many of our present cultural and political issues are not new but rather unresolved issues from the past. I want my children to understand that while progress has been made, we are still fighting for equal rights, equal protection, and for full humanity.
Here are a few of our favorite resources:
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BlackPast with it’s African American Timeline has been my go-to resource for including Black History within the context of our American History lessons.
Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry explores Harriet’s childhood, marriage to a freedman, and as well as her work as an underground railroad conductor and abolitionist.
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis is historical fiction about the adventures of an 11-year-old boy who was the first child born free in Buxton, a Canadian settlement of runaway slaves. Our entire family enjoyed reading the book and listening to the audiobook narrated by James Avery (Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire).
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz is a beautifully written and illustrated biography of Malcolm’s childhood written by his daughter.
X: A Novel by Iyasah Shabazz is another biography about Malcolm written by his daughter. This book covers his teen years and time in jail which resulted in his conversion to Islam.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr by Doreen Rappaport explores the impact of words on Martin’s life and the impact of Martin’s words on the country.
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine is the beautifully illustrated, emotional story of a man that mails himself to freedom.
Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue is the inspiring story of nine-year-old Ron McNair and how his love for books challenges the rules of a library in 1950s South Carolina.
Ruby Bridges– Ruby Bridges was only 6 years old when she became one of the first black children to integrate an all-white school in 1960 New Orleans.
Selma– Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and others march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama for voting rights.
Hidden Figures– Three black women working at NASA during the Space Race to have John Glenn become the first American to orbit the earth.
42– Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He persevered in the face of great racism while wearing the number 42 on his back.
Red Tails– The story of the Tuskegee Airmen, black fighter pilots during World War II.
Race– Jesse Owens, a black track runner that competes in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.
Here are two of our favorite videos about African history. Mansa Musa ruled the Mali Empire, the largest and richest empire in West Africa from 1312-1337.
Hatshepsut was a female Egyptian Pharoah.
I hope you find these resources helpful for integrating Black History into your daily history lessons.
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