In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced that the second week of February was to be deemed “Negro History Week.” Woodson chose this week to honor the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, calling on all Americans to celebrate the life and history of African Americans. This gesture gained popularity throughout the following decades as mayors across the land began endorsing it as a holiday.
In 1976, the Federal Government recognized the expansion of “Negro History Week” to Black History Month. Gaining the attentions of both blacks and whites across the United States, our 38th President Gerald Ford urged his fellow Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” This tradition carries on into our own modern day history, more popular than ever.
While many people are not exactly celebrating this time with parties or gatherings, this is a great opportunity to teach our children exactly what African Americans have contributed to our country and history.
All these activities will take a little time and research, but this is the whole point of the exercises! By investigation, your children will become more aware of the differences in people. They will also begin to learn about tolerance and caring and that all people should be treated equally. I can’t think of a better way to spend Black History Month!
Here are a few great learning ideas:
Who Am I?
Choose from the following list of great Americans and ask your children to find out who each person was and how they contribute to Black History Month:
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Ask your kids to investigate the inventors of the following items and how they impact our lives today:
Ice Cream Scoop
Ask your children to make a collage depicting famous African Americans, their talents and accomplishments. Provide them with construction paper, glue or tape and other crafting supplies.
Help your kids create a civil rights timeline, documenting all the important things that happened along the way. (Hint: A good jumping off point would be 1913 when Rosa Parks was born.) Ask their teacher to let them demonstrate it to the class.