Nationwide, we celebrate Black History Month in February. But the history of Black people in the U.S. is woven throughout the fabric of our country — our history, communities, and popular music, sports, and culture.
Look for opportunities to include these rich histories and stories throughout the year and across the curriculum!
Writers, illustrators, and storytellers
Video interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators
Watch Reading Rockets’ interviews with celebrated Black children’s book authors and illustrators about themes and characters in their books as well as the importance of seeing themselves reflected in books growing up.
You’ll also hear from children’s literature historian, Leonard Marcus, who talks about the history of multicultural children’s books in the U.S. from the 1960s onward.
Watch full interviews with these award-winning authors and illustrators:
- Kwame Alexander (The Crossover)
- Tonya Bolden (How to Build a Museum)
- Ashley Bryan (Let It Shine)
- Rudine Sims Bishop (Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors)
- Bryan Collier (Trombone Shorty)
- Christopher Paul Curtis (The Watsons Go to Birmingham)
- Nikki Giovanni (Rosa)
- Nikki Grimes (Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel)
- E.B. Lewis (Coming on Home Soon)
- Kekla Magoon (The Season of Styx Malone)
- Leonard Marcus (children’s literature historian)
- Patricia and Frederick McKissack (Mirandy and Brother Wind)
- Christopher Myers (Wings)
- Walter Dean Myers (Harlem)
- Kadir Nelson (We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball)
- Jerry Pinkney (The Lion and the Mouse)
- Jason Reynolds (Ghost)
- Jewell Parker Rhodes (Bayou Magic)
- Sharon Robinson (Testing the Ice)
- Charles R. Smith, Jr. (Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson)
- Carole Boston Weatherford (Freedom in Congo Square)
- Rita Williams-Garcia (Clayton Byrd Goes Underground)
- Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness)
Marley Dias and Jason Reynolds: The Portrayal of Diverse Characters
Activist, author, and NEA’s Read Across America Ambassador Marley Dias and award-winning author and the 2020-2022 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds discuss the deep importance of diversity in books in helping to uplift Black authors and characters.
Marley Dias and Jason Reynolds: Making Black Stories Universal
Children’s book authors and illustrators in our blogs
- Meet Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, authors of Black Boy, Black Boy: Celebrating the Power of You
- Andrea Davis Pinkney: storyteller and more
- Collaboration on the gridiron: an interview with Fred Bowen and James Ransome
- Books are key to the future: an interview with Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
- Creative couple: an interview with Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome
- Working together: Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome
- READING = HOPE x CHANGE (What’s Your Equation?)
- A Ride to Remember by Sharon Langley
- There’s More to the Story by Alicia D. Williams
Celebrating Black History Month with Poetry
On her Poetry for Children website, Sylvia Vardell showcases wonderful poetry created by African American poets who write for young people, including Marilyn Nelson, Nikki Giovanni, Carole Boston Weatherford, Nikki Grimes, Ashley Bryan, Charles R. Smith, Jacqueline Woodson, Walter Dean Myers, Kwame Alexander, Eloise Greenfield, Maya Angelou, and others. Celebrating Black History Month with Poetry
Black History Month from Poets.org
To celebrate Black History Month in February — and the rich tradition of African American poetry all year long — browse essays on literary milestones and movements, find important books on black history and poetics, look for lesson plans for Black History Month, read archival letters from classic African American poets, and search poems about the African American experience by both classic and contemporary poets. Black History Month from Poets.org
Celebrating Black History Month (Poetry Foundation)
Poems, articles, and podcasts that explore African American history and culture. Discover poems from Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many others. Celebrating Black History Month
A Griot (pronounced gree-oh) is a storyteller, a position of honor in West African tradition, who hands down family and community history from one generation to the next. StoryCorps Griot is an initiative to ensure that the voices, experiences, and life stories of African Americans will be preserved and presented with dignity. The Griot Initiative also documents the varied voices of people with roots in the African Diaspora living in the United States. Griot recordings are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps Griot
Browse the booklists below, or find more great titles related to Black history and culture in our Book Finder tool.
Activities for the classroom, home, and community
Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Black History (Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance)
Here are some suggestions to ensure students get the most out of black history and Black History Month. Number 1: Incorporate black history year-round, not just in February. Use the month of February to dig deeper into history and make connections with the past. See these other articles from Teaching Tolerance:
- Four Black History Month Must-Haves
- Mining the Jewel of Black History Month
- Black History Month Is Over. Now What?
Five Black History Month Lessons (KQED Education)
Add depth and dimension to your Black History Month lessons with this collection of resources highlighting key events, movements, and traditions as well as notable leaders, poets, and musicians.
Black History Month Lessons and Resources (National Education Association)
Discover content area lesson plans to bring African-American culture and history into your curriculum.
The National African American Read-In (NCTE)
The National Council of Teachers of English asks schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. Find ideas for event activities in the African American Read-In Toolkit .
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Browse the rich online resources of this new national museum located on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Learn about significant moments in African American history, culture, and community — as well as the people who helped shape this history. The website also offers educator, family, and student resources. Stories invites NMAAHC staff to share their interpretation of the collections they find most powerful.
The Underground Railroad (National Geographic)
You are a slave in the South before the Civil War. Should you risk escape with Harriet Tubmans help through the Underground Railroad to Canada? Take an interactive journey on the Underground Railroad.
Black History Month for Teachers (Library of Congress)
Put the power of primary sources to work in the classroom. Browse ready-to-use lesson plans, student activities, collection guides, and research aids.
Black History Teaching Resources (Smithsonian Institution)
Collection includes reading lists for young people, lessons about African American artists, writers, and pioneering aviators, a virtual history tour, videos — and music, and spoken-word recordings (along with lesson plans) from the Smithsonian Folkways archive.
Teacher’s Guide to African American History and Culture in the United States (National Endowment for the Humanities)
From NEH’s EdSITEment initiative, find multimedia resources to help understand the more than 400 year long history of African Americans, and investigate more deeply the struggles, challenges and achievements of African Americans.
Celebrating Black History (New York Times, The Learning Network)
A collection of Times articles, essays, photographs, videos, infographics and more that can help bring the wealth of black history and culture into your classroom.
7 Easy and Inspiring Activities to Celebrate Black History Month (PBS Parents)
Black History Month is a time to celebrate African American heroes who have made a difference in our world. Here are some inspiring activities that you can do with your child to celebrate Black History Month and help your child value their own strengths. Also see this article, Teaching Your Child About Black History .
Writing activities from Reading Rockets
Children can learn about family heritage at the same time they are improving their literacy skills. Using family-based writing projects, you can build a connection with parents, and help children see the value in their own heritage and in the diversity around them.
Literacy activities can take on a new meaning when students are reading and writing about their own community. Children learn the true value of print when they document the oral histories of the elders in their town.
People and events
Rosa Parks Bus (Henry Ford Museum)
Learn more about Rosa Parks and her brave actions on December 1, 1955, the story behind the bus, and a chronology of the Civil Rights movement.
African Americans in the Postal Service and Philately (National Postal Museum)
Learn all about the black experience through the lens of American postage stamps. Find out about the 1940 Booker T. Washington stamp, the Negro Baseball League stamps, letter writing during the Great Migration, the history of African American postal workers, and more.
Famous African Americans
Find out more about African Americans who have changed history, achieved greatness, and made a significant mark on our culture, including Julian Bond, Medgar Evers, Mae Jemison, Lorraine Hansberry, Zora Neale Thurston, Mahalia Jackson, Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Mos Def, Serena Williams, Muhammad Ali, and many others.
Black History Month (The History Channel)
This multimedia site includes a brief overview of the civil rights struggle, biographies of key players, and video clips of Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, and other famous Americans.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Are you a baseball fan? Visit the website for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to learn about the league’s history, players, and teams.
Online guides to Black history
Black History Month in Two Minutes
It’s Black History delivered in short, lively, fact-packed stories accessible to people of all ages and education levels. It’s fast, accurate U.S. history available in free video podcast recordings describing major historical events and introducing less well-known experiences involving Black Americans. Narrated by renowned historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Black History Month Resources (Library of Congress)
Celebrate the contributions of African Americans throughout U.S. history. Learn about Harriet Tubman, John Hope Franklin, the Tuskegee Airmen, African Americans in the military, African American band music and recordings, and the Emancipation Proclamation. Find a number of primary documents and resources for teachers.
African American Odyssey (Library of Congress)
This site showcases the African American collections of the Library of Congress. Displaying more than 240 items, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings, this is the largest black history exhibit ever held at the Library of Congress.
PBS television programs
Eyes on the Prize
The landmark documentary series. Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, the series covers all of the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954 to 1985. On the extensive website you’ll find a wealth of ideas for classroom activities at different grade levels.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
This Emmy Award-winning series premiered in 2013 and looks at more than just Black history, it explores Black identity and what it means to be an African American in the U.S. today. Unveiling different religious and social perspectives, a multiplicity of cultural perspectives, and the evolution of the African American people, this series spans five hundred years and two continents as Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes viewers on a journey of the Black experience throughout the United States.
Slavery By Another Name
Did Slavery really end with the Civil War? This 90-minute documentary explores how in the years following the Emancipation Proclamation, systematic approaches were taken to re-enslave newly freed Blacks in the United States. This system included new brutal methods of forced labor in which men were arrested and forced to work without pay, bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters.
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson — the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World, whose dominance over his white opponents spurred furious debates and race riots in the early 20th century — enters the ring once again in this PBS documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns. The website includes a teacher’s guide.
Slavery and the Making of America
The first slaves were bought in 1619, the last freed in 1865. In the intervening 250 years, slaves labored to make America what it is today. This television series was produced by WNET. The website includes a K-12 Learning section.
This program, part of the American Experience series on PBS, pushes past the myths that have obscured Martin Luther King’s story to reclaim the history of a people’s leader. Using the personal recollections, diaries, letters, and eyewitness accounts of friends, family, journalists, law enforcement officers and historians, this film brings fresh insights to King’s difficult journey, his charismatic — if at times flawed — leadership, and his truly remarkable impact. The website includes a teacher’s guide.