With February, Black History Month quickly approaching, I thought I'd share some great books, links and discussion/lesson suggestions to last you through February.
The history and story behind Black History Month:
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of slaves was the first figure to try to incorporate Black history in to the public discussion. Born in Virginia in 1875, Carter Woodson escaped poverty through education, receiving a Doctorate from Harvard University in 1912. Through his education, Woodson noticed that while Black slaves and freemen were instrumental in U.S. history and economy there was either no information about them and their contributions, are there was misinformation. So, in 1915 he founded The Association of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) (along with minister Jesse E. Moorland, and in 1916 began publishing The Journal of Negro History (now known as The Journal of African American History.
|Dr. Carter G. Woodson|
With the encouragement of others, in 1926, Woodson organized the first annual Negro History week for the second week in February, intentionally coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. In the decades that followed, mayors across the country began to officially recognize Negro History Week. Twenty-six years after Dr. Carter Woodson's death, with the help of the Civil Rights Movement and growing black pride, Black History Week became Black History Month, as part of the Bi-Centennial celebration. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
Here are some of my favorite reading suggestions:
- The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos and Nate Powell (First Second Books, Grades 6+) - a true story about a while male reporter and his family living in Texas during the Civil Rights Movement. The father must make career and life choices while trying to do the 'right thing.' The struggles of segregation and the Civil Rights movement are clearly and sensitively depicted.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee — an American classic about a town struggling with racism and a trial that brings two families from opposing sides of the civil rights conflict to the forefront.
- March, a graphic novel by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Grades 6+) - This first volume spans Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle against segregation. (Note: This book has an awesome teacher’s guide, too.)
- I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World by Martin Luther King Jr. — the text of King’s famous speech.
- Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier (illustrator) — an extraordinary picture-book biography, incorporating narrative, famous quotes from Dr. King, and powerful collage and watercolor illustrations introducing King’s words and legacy to younger readers.
- Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody — an autobiography of a poor Black girl whose parents were tenant farmers on a Mississippi plantation and whose dream of going to college was realized upon winning a basketball scholarship. We get first-hand accounts of her joining the NAACP, CORE, and SNCC and the steps she took in demonstrations and sit-ins, along with her subsequent arrests and jailings.
- Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges, Margo Lundell (Editor) — Ruby Bridges chronicles her steps in November 1960 as a six-year-old Black girl, surrounded by federal marshals who walked her through a mob of screaming segregationists into school.
- For older readers (high school and older):
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston — novel about Janie Crawford, a proud, independent Black woman whose quest for identity and has become a highly acclaimed expression of African-American literature.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou — autobiography about poet and writer Maya Angelou’s early years. She writes about women’s lives in a male-dominated society, and uses metaphors of rape (the suffering of her race) and a caged bird trying to escape throughout the book.
- In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s by Clayborne Carson — Using primary resources (interviews, meeting transcripts, and recently released FBI papers), Carson describes the SNCC story from its start-up as the earliest civil rights fighters (its sit-ins, freedom rides, organized voter registration) to sparking wider social protests against the Vietnam War. This book goes behind the scene and takes a look at the organizations accomplishments and internal and often bitter power struggles.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker — about Celle, a Southern Black woman sold into a live of servitude to her brutal sharecropper husband and her struggle to find her own way.
Here are some links and resources:
- http://www.history.com/topics/black-history-month has a variety of videos including the history ov Black History month, "Bet You Didn't Know: Rosa Parks"; clips on Jackie Robinson and Kings March in Washington, and more. This site also has links to "Key Events in African-American History" and "Famous African Americans."
- http://www.readingrockets.org/calendar/blackhistory has a variety of links with information about black writers, illustrators and storytellers; recommended children's books; activities for the classroom and community; people and events; online guides to African American history; and related PBS television programs.
- http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/ has information on exhibits, has audio and video links, information for teachers and images. This is sponsored by The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities; National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
- http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/ "The African American Odyssey" sponsored by The Library of Congress, has outstanding links to famous events and milestones of the African American odyssey including: their quest for full citizenship, Frederick Douglass' papers, Jackie Robinson, slave narratives from the Federal Writers' Project 1936-38, slaves and the courts 1740-1860, and more.
- http://www.britannica.com/blackhistory is sponsored by Encyclopedia Brittanica and has an extensive timeline, audio and video clips and biographies.
- http://departingthetext.blogspot.com/2013/06/unsung-heroes.html has assorted links for studying unsung black heroes.
- http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1963424,00.html Time provides a list of unsung heroes for Black History Month
- http://www.pbs.org/teachers/thismonth/unsung/index1.html PBS lesson plan "Unsung Heroes in African America History: Activity Ideas
- http://www.tolerance.org/activity/unsung-heroes-civil-rights-movement has lesson suggestions for unsung heoes of the civil rights movement.
Links to specific events:
- Underground Railroad - an interactive site by National Geographic that follows the paths taken. Includes some audio component (songs sung) and options and choices to make along the journey.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream speech – text and audio
- http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/themes/civil-rights/exhibitions.html – multimedia resources from the Library of Congress that support the teaching about civil rights
- Historical places of the civil rights movement – We Shall Overcome: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary with an introduction, itinerary maps, list of sites and links to learn more.
- http://www.academicinfo.net/africanamcr.html – civil rights history resource.
- http://www.pbs.org/teachers/thismonth/civilrights/index1.html – Teaching ideas for teaching the civil rights movement in American literature (all grade levels)
- http://www.crmvet.org/poetry/poemhome.htm – poems of the Freedom Movement
- http://www.whyy.org/generations/oral.html – guide for students on how to conduct oral history interviews with samples of American slave narratives and other primary resource sets
- http://www.history.com/search?q=civil+rights+movement&x=0&y=0 – History channel list of links and resources
- http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/civil-rights-movement and http://www.slj.com/2013/01/books-media/collection-development/focus-on-collection-development/civil-rights-everyday-heroes-focus-on-january-2013/ – provides extensive lists for further reading on the civil rights movement for students of varying ages and reading levels.
Suggested kids' books and lessons around specific books
- Reading Rockets' Favorite Books for Black History Month
- Detailed lessons and resource links for Silence of Our Friends
As always, thank you for your visit. Please leave your own suggestions or favorite Black History Month recommendations in the comments below.