It’s that time of year again. February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month. Before I suggest some useful resources, let’s briefly look at its origins.
Fact 1: The United States is not the only country to officially celebrate it. In addition to our neighbors to the North, who also celebrate this time of remembrance in February, the Irish and the United Kingdom observe Black History Month in October.
Fact 2: The roots of Black History Month in the U.S. can be traced back to historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, who together marked the second week of February – which coincides with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – as Negro history week in 1926.
Fact 3: Even the Great Emancipator had his failures, and so it’s undoubtedly best that in 1969 students at Kent State moved to celebrate the contributions and culture of Black Americans for an entire month, instead of placing President Lincoln, who upheld the mass public hanging of 38 Dakota Sioux on December 26, 1862, in the center of their celebrations.
So, if your school has never celebrated Black History Month before, it’s never too late to get on that ‘soul train’. And since we didn’t want to leave you in the lurch, we’ve provided a list of some suitable blogs we’ve published over the years on subjects, ranging from cultural icons, such as Aretha Franklin, Don Cornelius, and Beyoncé, to best books and fabulous films dealing with Black identity and history. You’ll also find information on some current controversies:
- Aretha Franklin: Freedom, Respect, and the Moral Universe
- “Be Free or Die”: Teaching Harriet (2019)
- Beyoncé and Jay‑Z at the Louvre: A Timely Reminder of Art Museums’ Racist Past
- Celebrating African American History Month with Claytee White
- The Confederate Flag Controversy
- Don Don’t Take No Mess: Don Cornelius and His Very Own Soul Train Mission
- Harriet Tubman and the 20-Dollar Bill Controversy
- Hidden Figures: A Highly Entertaining Film that Means Well but Doesn’t Quite Add Up
- More than Just a Novel: Nic Stone’s Dear Martin
- “My Goal Would Be To Go Out of Business and Go Back to the Classroom”: An Interview with Nancy Dome
- “My only sin is in my skin. What did I do to be so black and blue?”
And if you’d like to do a larger, interdisciplinary project, the Center for Racial Justice Education has everything you’ll need. Such a project doesn’t just have to take place in February. Black history is American history, so it can be celebrated all year long.
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