Black History Month

  • For Educators
march
15th Amendment

The 15th Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870, declared that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Abernathy, Martin and Loretta King and Marchers for the Right to Vote

Courtesy of the Abernathy Family

Civil Rights Movement Co-Founder Dr. Ralph David Abernathy and his wife Mrs. Juanita Abernathy follow with Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Abernathy children march on the front line, leading the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.

Depiction of the first vote for African Americans in Virginia

Library of Congress

In 1867, freedmen registered to vote in Virginia. Artist Alfred Rudolph Waud depicted "The First Vote" of African Americans in Virginia in the November 16, 1867 issue of Harper's Weekly magazine.

African American children encouraging people to register to vote

Kheel Center, Cornell University / CC BY 2.0

A large group of African American children gather around a sign encouraging people to register to vote.

Demonstrators protest against civil rights abuses against African Americans and other disenfranchised groups

Library of Congress

During the March on Washington, the National Council of Churches and thousands of other demonstrators protest against employment discrimination and civil rights abuses against African Americans and other disenfranchised groups, August 28, 1963.

Demonstrators with signs march for voting rights, jobs, an end to police brutality at the March on Washington, 1963

Library of Congress

Demonstrators march for voting rights, jobs, an end to police brutality and other injustices against African Americans and other disenfranchised groups during the March on Washington, August 28, 1963.

February as Black History Month

Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month, which is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Black History Month grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans.

Black History Month 2020 Theme: "African-Americans and the Vote"

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment on February 3, 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment gave Black men the right to vote by declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." It wasn't until the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that Black women gained voting rights. However, their constitutional right was limited in many states due to discriminatory laws.

Teaching Black History

In schools and classrooms, Black History Month is an excellent time to explore the Black experience—including the history and culture of African-American people, the injustice faced by them and how that injustice has been and continues to be confronted and overcome. As with other similarly themed months, it is important not to isolate black history and culture into one month during the year. Black history is American history and should be integrated into the curriculum throughout the school year.

This month we feature our teaching guide 10 Ideas for Teaching Black History Month as well as additional K-12 curriculum and other resources to bring the themes of Black History Month to your classroom during February and throughout the year.

Curriculum Resources: Historical

Curriculum Resources: Current Issues

Curriculum Resources: Race and Racism

Children and Young Adult Literature with Educator and Parent Discussion Guides

The Undefeated

This book/poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes.

Sulwe

Sulwe is darker than everyone in her family and wishes she was “beautiful and bright” like her sister and mother. This picture book creates a whimsical and poignant story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

Firebird

In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached.

March: Book One

Book One of this graphic novel trilogy spans Congressman John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

Teaching Tools