Here’s a quick history lesson on how Black History Month came to be. In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson was displeased with the lack of  African American history in U.S. textbooks. He started “Negro History Week” to educate students about the contributions of African Americans.  February was the logical choice because it marked the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two Americans who positively influenced the lives and social condition of African Americans. One week grew into a month-long celebration of education, achievement and progress. And in 1976 President Ford officially recognized the expanded observance.

Many teachers integrate Black History Month into their lesson plans. We thought we’d share a few educational ideas that you can incorporate into your history and civics lessons:

    • Have each student create a Profile in Black History.  Let them choose an African American scientist, inventor, educator, entrepreneur or athlete. This can be a great opportunity for younger students to improve their research, writing and presentation skills.
    • Focus on local African-American history. Invite a guest speaker (historian, librarian, etc.) from your community into the classroom. Students may be surprised to learn how rich and interesting the history is in their own backyard.
    • The ASALH declared 2012′s theme “Black Women in American Culture and History.” Have your students choose a famous African American woman who has or is making positive contributions in business, entertainment, science or government.
    • Have middle and high school art students profile an African American artist.  They can recreate a painting, sculpture, quilt or other art form and present it — along with an introduction to the original artist.

For more ideas and resources, visit the Schools of Thought Blog.  And please share your Black History Month lesson plans with us!