February is Black History Month
When children have friends from different backgrounds and cultures, they develop a full appreciation of everyone. Established in 1926 as Negro History Week by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the month of February is now nationally recognized as Black History Month. During February, citizens honor achievements by individual Black Americans and take time to recognize the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.
Well before his death in 1950, Woodson believed that the weekly celebrations—not the study or celebration of black history–would eventually come to an end. In fact, Woodson never viewed black history as a one-week affair. He pressed for schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what students learned all year. In the same vein, he established a black studies extension program to reach adults throughout the year. It was in this sense that blacks would learn of their past on a daily basis that he looked forward to the time when an annual celebration would no longer be necessary. Generations before Morgan Freeman and other advocates of all-year commemorations, Woodson believed that black history was too important to America and the world to be crammed into a limited time frame. He spoke of a shift from Negro History Week to Negro History Year. (Source: ASAHL: Origins of Black History Month)
In celebration of Black History Month, we encourage you to review the following history and resources:
- Teaching Tolerance: Four Black History Month Must-Haves
- Five Ways to Avoid Whitewashing The Civil Rights Movement
- Black History Month Teaching, Miseducation or Empowerment?
Black History Month at
Grand Rapids Public Library
Throughout February, the Grand Rapids Public Library is hosting online programs for both kids and adults that highlight and celebrate our Black community. Follow this link to the GRPL website to discover information about their online events, Black History Month Craft Kits, and Taste of Soul Restaurant Showcase.
Selected Resources for African-American History Month
from GRPS’ Office of Equity and Inclusion
The Black Family:
Representation, Identity, and Diversity
Source: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History week in 1926, he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public. The intention has never been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis.
ASALH’s 2023 theme is Black Resilience. “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings since our arrival upon these shores. These efforts have been to advocate for a dignified self-determined life in a just democratic society in the United States and beyond the United States political jurisdiction. The 1950s and 1970s in the United States was defined by actions such as sit-ins, boycotts, walk outs, strikes by Black people and white allies in the fight for justice against discrimination in all sectors of society from employment to education to housing. Black people have had to consistently push the United States to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. Systematic oppression has sought to negate much of the dreams of our griots, like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and our freedom fighters, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Septima Clark, and Fannie Lou Hamer fought to realize. Black people have sought ways to nurture and protect Black lives, and for autonomy of their physical and intellectual bodies through armed resistance, voluntary emigration, nonviolence, education, literature, sports, media, and legislation/politics. Black led institutions and affiliations have lobbied, litigated, legislated, protested, and achieved success.”
Register for ASALH’s Black History Month Virtual Festival: https://asalh.org/festival/
Source: Contributors to Chiff.com
Each year beginning on February 1, an entire month of events are planned nationwide honoring the history and contributions of African Americans. This year, Black History Month returns to its roots with a new focus on black family ties. The theme for 2021, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity”, explores the wide-ranging diversity of black family life — from single to two-parent households to nuclear, extended and, more recently, bi-racial.
Learn more about the exceptional contributions made by African Americans with these ideas for each day of Black History Month.
Source: Celebrating Black History Month with PBS SoCal and KET
This February, PBS SoCal and KCET present an exciting programming slate in honor of Black History Month! Both stations will showcase a curated lineup of enlightening programs to bolster awareness and understanding of racial history in America.
Integrating Black History Month
To help you integrate Black History Month into your classroom, we offer a selection of lesson plans that cover a variety subjects and that can be adapted to fit multiple grade levels.
Black Lives Matter at School
As racism and xenophobia become more prevalent and overt in our schools and communities, it is more important than ever to listen to and elevate the voices, experiences, and history of our fellow citizens and communities under attack. The goal of Black Lives Matter at School is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities for people of all ages to engage with issues of racial justice. Find stories, resources and ideas highlighting Black Lives Matter at School from across the country here.
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
What Can Parents Do?
Parents can encourage cooperation and teamwork when children have fights or disagreements between themselves. Encouraging them to compromise and talk it out are great ways for children to work cooperatively with others. Sharing and taking turns are also great steps toward good team members.
Black History Celebration Activities
This month, connect with other families to:
- celebrate Black History Month or your own family history
- honor President’s Day
- schedule a midyear check in with the teacher