Monthly Advice–February: Black History Month

Black History is not the history of slavery. 

I know you know, but not everyone knows this fact–so send this friendly reminder.

Black History Month is the history of the world. Thanks to the black diaspora there are black people all over the world. Thanks to this movement, involuntary and voluntary movement, there is black culture, black achievement, and black excellence all over the world. Black History includes the stories and contributions of African-Americans, American-Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, and so much more. Celebrate that richness, devote time to that diversity, embrace all that history.

Notable people to start with:

  • Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
  • Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Award-Winning author
  • Epsy Campbell Barr, First Vice President of Costa Rica of African descent
  • Bryan Stevenson, lawyer & social justice advocate–book (Just Mercy) was recently turned into a movie; founder of the Equal Justice Initiative

Notable movements and organizations to discuss:

  • Harlem Renaissance
  • HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)
  • Black Girls Code
  • Black Sororities and Fraternities

This month, this year, celebrate all that is Black History.


Monthly Advice–January & February

Next month is Black History Month. Black History is American history. Black History is World History. So while learning and celebration, discussion and recognition, should happen all year, February is the focused time of the year.

As we gear up for Black History Month, I challenge all teachers, parents, families, and students to read stories by Black authors and to read about Black history–and when I mean history, I mean dig deep: go beyond the staple names you have heard year after year. Find a new story, a new person, a new part of history.

Elementary teachers, and secondary ELA and History teachers, are uniquely positioned to read to their students. Secondary teachers not in ELA and history, I challenge you to be seen reading such literature and histories.

Need some ideas? I found this list Top 150 Recommended African-American Children’s Books. I wish I had had this years ago! Some I know and love: Brown Girl Dreaming, One Crazy Summer, and Henry’s Freedom Box. Some are new and I can’t wait to read them!

Let’s make this the best Black History Month for all our students–let’s provide them, and ourselves, as many stories as possible, as many mirrors and windows as possible. . .

December Holidays

Some of them have passed, but consider the following:

  • December 2: Cyber Monday
  • December 3: Giving Tuesday
  • December 5: International Volunteer Day
  • December 7: Pearl Harbor Remembrance
  • December 10: Human Rights Day
  • December 21: Beginning of Winter
  • December 22-December 30: Hanukkah
  • December 23: Festivus
  • December 25: Christmas
  • December 26: Boxing Day
  • December 26-January 1: Kwanzaa

The world is vast, diverse, and changing. The classroom should reflect these things.

Open the world up to your students, show them the vastness of our national and international holidays.

The world is diverse, we never know what students actually celebrate or how they feel about any celebration. Forgo a concentration on a singular holiday, or a cursory glance at recurring holiday learning. Try to add something new–for their learning and your learning.

The world is changing, we have so much to celebrate, so much to do, and so much to learn. Change with it. In fact, go beyond this serious list and look up some fun ones–did you know National Brownie Day is in December? So is National Cupcake Day! And National Pastry Day! Think of all that you can incorporate and mix into holiday learning!

In December, holidays are much bigger and as a result are full of potential; seize this opportunity to teach and learn and grow.