Black History Month
Resources for Jefferson Staff
February is Black History Month
- Analyze your classroom library to ensure the books are diverse and factual
- Read books or articles to grow your own understanding of others' experiences
- Join online discussions such as #Educolor
- Look at your curriculum with new eye to check if all perspectives are being taught
This is an excellent time for you to expand your own knowledge and we hope the resources we have provided will encourage you to do just that.
Melissa, Amanda, Christy, Kathryn, Maria, Megan
Do's and Don'ts of Teaching Black History Month
Incorporate black history year-round, not just in February. Use the month of February to dig deeper into history and make connections with the past.
Continue Learning. Explore how to provide an in-depth and thorough understanding of black history. Textbooks are notorious for omitting information about the struggles of communities, and what they include is limited, so use the textbook as one of many resources. While exploring multiple resources, allow for opportunities to learn along with your students.
Reinforce to students that "black" history is American history. Make black history relevant to all students.
Relate lessons to other parts of your curriculum, so that focusing on a leader, like Fred Shuttlesworth, expands upon rather than diverts from your curriculum. By the time February comes around, the context of the struggle for civil rights and social justice should be familiar to students if you have already addressed such issues across the curriculum.
Connect issues in the past to current issues to make history relevant to students' lives. For example, ask students to gather information with a focus on what social disparities exist today and how a particular leader has worked to change society.
Stop your "regular" curriculum, to do a separate lesson on Rosa Parks, on the Civil Rights Act or on Martin Luther King Jr. This trivializes and marginalizes anything you are teaching, making these leaders a token of their culture and ethnicity. Students will get the message that the diversion is not as important as the "regular" curriculum.
Focus on superficial cultural traits based on stereotypes. It's ok to celebrate black music, but teachers should also explore the political and social contexts that give rise to musical forms like hip hop.
Talk about black history in solely "feel-good" language, or as a thing of the past. This fails to help students examine how racism manifests itself today.
Limit the presentation to lectures and reading. Be sure to allow students an opportunity for discussion and reflection.
Teach with little or inaccurate information. Review resources to make sure they don't promote a Eurocentric perspective, which may misrepresent historic figures and social movements.
Shy away from controversial, ambiguous, or unresolved issues. Share the real-life experiences about racial realities in developmentally appropriate ways.
Adapted from material by Pat Russo of the Curriculum & Instruction Department at SUNY Oswego.
Mining the Jewel of Black History Month
"Black History Month is part of an educational lineage and tradition that has evolved into the work of anti-bias, anti-racist, multicultural, culturally responsive and social justice educators. Before you write it off as multiculturalism 101, consider what you can learn about the relationship of race and culture to curriculum and pedagogy this February."