"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots."  

- M. Garvey

Black History  & Culture

Teaching Black History 

How can we teach Black History in culturally responsive ways?

Black history is American history, and students learning about the achievements and contributions of African Americans should not be confined to a single month.  It is also not information that should only be taught to Black children. Again, Black history is American history and every American has the right to know their history.  

Here are practical ways to infuse Black history into the curriculum throughout the year:

Be mindful that not all of the Black experiences in America have reflected the ideals expressed in our democracy but it is important to acknowledge and honor the entire story of African Americans.  Without judgment, that means we must acknowledge the good, the bad, and the ugly of our history as a nation. 

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own." 

–Michelle Obama

African American History and Literature

Did you know you can find quality literature both online and offline?

The study of the rich African American heritage and culture can be deepened by using scholarly text.  Some of the most treasured works are included here but that is just the "tip of the iceberg." These are just a few of the great, Black leaders who have comforted and encouraged their communities while inspiring nations to continue to push forward in pursuit of true freedom. If you are looking for quality literature, consider a few of these avenues:

Libraries - Visit your local library and check out their African American history and literature sections. Librarians can help you find relevant books and resources.

Bookstores - Many bookstores have dedicated sections for African American literature. Look for well-known titles or ask the staff for recommendations.

Online Retailers - Websites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Book Depository offer a wide selection of books. You can read reviews and explore curated lists to find highly regarded works.

Educational Institutions - University libraries and bookstores often carry a rich collection of African American literature and scholarly works. You can also explore online courses or lectures on the subject.

Digital Libraries - Platforms like Project Gutenberg and Google Books provide access to a range of public domain literature, including some African American classics.

Book Recommendations Websites - Websites like Goodreads and Book Riot have curated lists of recommended books, including those related to African American history and literature.

African American Book Clubs - Joining book clubs focused on African American literature can be a great way to discover new titles and engage in discussions with like-minded readers.

Cultural and Historical Centers - Visit cultural and historical centers, museums, and institutions that focus on African American history. They may have bookstores or recommendations for further reading.

Online Forums and Communities - Platforms like Reddit have dedicated communities where users discuss and recommend African American literature. Subreddits like r/books or r/BlackReaders can be good starting points.

Remember to check for reviews and ratings to ensure the quality of the books you choose. Additionally, consider exploring works from a diverse range of authors to gain a comprehensive understanding of African American history and culture.

Black Influence On the Arts

Art, Artists, and Museums

Blacks have made profound and influential contributions to the arts across various disciplines, shaping cultural expressions and influencing artistic movements. Some of the profound ways that Black individuals have impacted the arts include: 

Music - Jazz and Blues: Black musicians played a foundational role in the development of jazz and blues, influencing the entire landscape of American music. Legends like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and B.B. King have left an indelible mark on music history. Rock and Roll: Black artists such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard played pivotal roles in the creation and popularization of rock and roll.

Visual Arts - Harlem Renaissance: During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, Black artists like Jacob Lawrence, Aaron Douglas, and Augusta Savage played a vital role in shaping the visual arts. Their work reflected and celebrated Black culture and identity. Contemporary Art: Black artists like Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, and Kerry James Marshall have made significant contributions to contemporary art, challenging norms and exploring themes of race, identity, and social justice.

Literature - Harlem Renaissance Writers: Writers like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Claude McKay were central figures in the Harlem Renaissance, producing literature that explored the Black experience in America. Contemporary Authors: Authors like Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates continue to shape literature, addressing issues of race, identity, and social justice in their works.

Dance - African and African-American Dance: Traditional African dance and its influence on African-American dance forms have been instrumental in shaping dance styles such as jazz, tap, and hip-hop. Figures like Alvin Ailey have played crucial roles in the development of modern dance.

Film and Theater - Breaking Barriers in Film: Black actors, directors, and producers have broken barriers in the film industry, contributing to cinematic masterpieces. Figures like Sidney Poitier, Halle Berry, Spike Lee, and Ava DuVernay have made lasting impacts. August Wilson's Legacy: Playwright August Wilson is renowned for his powerful plays, particularly the Pittsburgh Cycle, which explores the African-American experience across different decades.

Fashion - Influential Fashion Designers: Black fashion designers, including Coco Chanel, Patrick Kelly, and Virgil Abloh, have made significant contributions to the world of fashion, influencing trends and challenging industry norms.

Activism and Art - Socially Engaged Art: Many Black artists use their work as a form of activism, addressing social issues and advocating for change. This intersection of art and activism can be seen in the work of artists like Kara Walker and Dread Scott. 

Classroom Extension Lessons

How do I extend and integrate Black Influences on the arts into the curriculum?

Explore Black artists and art by visiting online galleries as well as museums in your areas that focus on Black history and the Black experience.  Have students enjoy the arts and even expand their views of the arts by exploring different genres including photography, painting, sculpture, architecture, drawing, stepping, ballets, or even street shows (i.e., graffiti murals).   Here are a few suggested activities: 

Looking for more resources to incorporate into instruction?

Websites, Lessons, Poetry, Booklists, Articles, and more!

At EFM, we believe that the history, narratives, and voices of Black people should be centered, honored, and uplifted in each curriculum a child engages. It is important to recognize that Black history is American history and we must "never be limited by another person's limited imagination" (Jemison). The importance of black culture cannot be underestimated, due to its numerous contributions to our current society; from entertainment to beauty, to business, to leadership, and even politics. It has made a difference, promoted Black excellence, and made Black people all around the world proud. As we celebrate a rich culture, it is important to engage all students in meaningful activities and discussions, ones that get them to think more broadly and critically about the Black experience and all of its complexity. During instructional planning, consider not only history, but different points of view, politics, struggle, first-person experience, art, and literature. Here are a few pre-made resources to get you started.

Lesson Planning & Professional Resources for Educators

Multicultural and Social Justice Books


Audiovisual Resources

Black History Month Activities/Resources

Blacks and STEM

How have Blacks contributed to the STEM field?

Blacks in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) have made significant contributions throughout history, despite facing systemic barriers and challenges. Recognizing the achievements of Black individuals in STEM is crucial for promoting diversity, and inclusion, and inspiring future generations. Here are some notable aspects of the contributions of Blacks in STEM: 

Celebrating Black History Month throughout February

What is Black History Month all about?

Black History Month (BHM) is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans that the United States has designated as the time to recognize African Americans for their central role and contributions to U.S. history. This celebration stems from the important work of Carter G. Woodson, who launched "Negro History Week" to promote the studying of African American history as a discipline and celebration of the accomplishments of many great Black heroes. Although February has been chosen as the period to celebrate the fullness of African Americans who have inspired change through activism, education, and innovation, as Dr. Tonya M. Matthews, President and CEO of the International African American Museum in Charleston, SC, reminds us "... 28 days is simply not long enough to celebrate the entire history of the African American journey but taking the time to highlight stories of resilience, joy, triumph, passion, freedom, and love will hopefully fuel a passion for renewed curiosity that will carry on well beyond the single month of February...."  

10 Fun African American Trivia Facts

A Fun Way to Learn New Black History Facts

"Trivia" refers to bits of information or facts that are interesting, entertaining, and often obscure. It can cover a wide range of topics, including history, science, pop culture, sports, and more. Trivia questions are usually short and focused, and the answers are typically pieces of information that might not be widely known but are intriguing or surprising. Engaging in trivia can be a fun way to learn new Black history facts and share knowledge in a lighthearted and enjoyable manner. 

Learn More About the Origin of BHM

African Americans have played a central role in shaping U.S. history. From slavery and the Great Migration to the Civil Rights Movement. Do you know how the celebration of Black History Month began? Click below to learn more about the origin of Black History Month.