Black History Month Lesson Collection

Collected lessons for teaching Black History Month, primarily for high school and middle school.  

Looking for engaging activities for Black History Month? Here's a selection of relevant Teachable Moment lessons. Most are appropriate for high school students, and in some cases middle school students. 


Black History Month & the Danger of a Single Story
Students explore why it is important for people to be able to tell their own stories and relate that to Black History Month.

Black History Month: How do we change history?
Students explore the origins of Black History Month and consider where we stand today in creating a more inclusionary history in classrooms across the country. 

The Montgomery Story
Students use a remarkable 1957 comic book to learn about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the real nature of the civil rights movement.  

The Power of Nonviolent Resistance  (Elementary school)
Through engaging activities, video, and small-group discussion, students consider the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how they might stand up against injustice.

Civil Rights Movement: Truths & Myths
History has a way of smoothing out the complexities of real-life events. This brief lesson explores some forgotten or misrepresented facts about the movement for civil rights.
3 Women Civil Rights Activists Who Changed History
Through reading, discussion, and small group activities, students learn about three relatively unknown women in the civil rights movement: Diane Nash, Virginia Durr, and Claudette Colvin.  
The Civil Rights Act & the Movement Behind It
Students explore the interplay of this legislation with the Civil Rights Movement, and consider what role everyday people play in making change.
Everyday Hero
This brief activity focuses on the African American girl who refused to give up her seat on the bus, months before Rosa Parks touched off the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. 
Voting Rights Act of 1965, Then & Now
This activity traces the orgins of the Voting Rights Act; a second discusses the recent Supreme Court decision limiting the Act's scope when it comes to drawing voter district lines.
The fight for voting rights, from Selma in 1965 to today
Students examine a primary source document to help them understand why so few southern blacks could vote in 1965 and how that struggle 50 years ago relates to voting rules today. 

The Power of Strategic Nonviolent Action
Students consider nonviolence as a strategy for intentionally building public support--in both in the Civil Rights Movement and in the Occupy movement.
Freedom Summer in 1964 and Voting Rights Today
In two readings and discussion, studnets learn about the Freedom Summer project, then discuss some challenges to voting rights that we face today. 

Organizing to end poverty, then and now
This lesson focuses on MLK's Poor People’s Campaign and links it to current struggles to combat poverty in the US, including by workers at fast food restaurants, Wal-Mart, and others.

MLK & The Power of Alliance-building
Students discuss Dr. King’s views about alliance-building; consider these in light of Obama’s inauguration; and learn about the alliance-building work of Ai-jen Poo, founder of Domestic Workers United.
Order vs. justice: MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail
This brief activity examines King's letter from a Birmingham jail in light of current events. 

Civil Rights Movement: Truths & Myths
This brief lesson explores some forgotten or misrepresented facts about the movement for civil rights. 

3 Allies: A Story about Standing Up
Students consider what it means to be an ally and stand up for justice by examining a famous photo of a protest at the 1968 Olympics and learning the story behind it.

Recent Activism

Black Lives Matter Lesson Series: Part 1
Students learn about the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement through tweets, quotes, and discussion of the movement's principles.  

Black Lives Matter Lesson Series: Part 2
Through a series of engaging "opinion continuum" exercises, students explore a range of views about the phrases "Black Lives Matter" and "All Lives Matter."

Black Lives Matter Lesson Series: Part 3
Using tweets, video and a poster, students review the history of the Black Lives Matter movement, consider criticisms of it, and examine the movement's policy goals. 

Has Black Lives Matter had an impact?
What are the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, and what progress has it made in bringing social change?  Students explore these questions with readings and discussion.

Kaepernick & Fellow Athletes Take a Stand
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick added momentum to a wave of protests by athletes against racial injustice. Students discuss tweets about the protests, consider multiple points of view about them, and construct a timeline.

University of Missouri: A win for students against racism
In this brief activity, students learn about how organizing by Black students at the University of Missouri led to the resignation of the university's president and sparked a wave of organizing on campuses nationwide.