What Kids Need to Learn About Black History Month

Here are answers to questions, facts, and learning resources about Black History Month to share with your children.

Answers to your Child’s Questions

Q: When was the first Black History Month?
Black History Month started as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by two historians. Over the years, the week evolved into a month and was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Now, nations outside of the U.S. observe Black History Month.
Q: Why does it happen in February?
A: Historians Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland designated the second week of February as the time to celebrate “Negro History Week” to coincide with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Q: Why do we recognize it?
A: In 1976, President Ford encouraged the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”Many use this time to learn about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and Martin Luther King Jr.
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But there is so much more history and people to discover. For instance, it is recorded that one of the first Africans to arrive in what is now the U.S. was African-Spanish non-slave, Juan Garrido, who was originally from West Africa. He, and other conquistadors, arrived in the Florida area in 1513.

How Kids Can Learn Black History

Many K-12 schools only include black history during the month of February and most lessons do not go further than discussing the transatlantic slave trade or the Jim Crow and Civil Rights Eras.

Learning the history of all people should be done all year round and should include both the good and the bad moments in history. No one group’s history is more important than another’s.

Doing so would allow people to get to know one another and gain a better understanding and appreciation for the various ethnic groups that make up the world.

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Here’s how children (and parents) can dig a little deeper into black history:
– Read age appropriate books
– Watch documentaries and historical fiction films
– Sit down and talk with someone from that ethnic group (specifically an elder)
– Visit museums, landmarks and monuments that celebrate black history
-Listen to music created by black musicians in specific eras.

Notable Black Historic Figures

Blacks have made contributions to the world since the beginning of time and continue to do so today. Due to laws restricting education and opportunities for blacks, many preservered and found ways to excel and follow their dreams. From politics to science, there are many black historic figures to include in your lessons yearround.

Blacks in Politics

–  President Barack Obama – Obama made history by being elected in 2008 to the nation’s highest office. He was the first black president of the United States of America and served as the 44th POTUS for two terms.
– Pinckney Pinchback – Pinchback was the first African-American governor (Louisiana) of a United States state. He also fought in the Civil War as a captain in the Union Army.
– Shirley Chisolm – Chisolm became a congresswoman in 1968, the first African-American to ever do so. She was also the first major party African-American candidate to make a bid for the United States presidency.

Black History Month - politics

Blacks in Science/Inventors

– Benjamin Banneker – Banneker was a free African-American who made astronomical predictions for almanacs and invented numerous clocks. He was a self-taught surveyor and in 1789 helped layout the nation’s capital as we know it today.
– Frederick McKinley Jones – Inventor with over 60 inventions. Most notable for inventing a refrigeration system for trucks, which changed the shipping and food industries. He also invented a projector that could play movies with sound.
– Dr. Charles Richard Drew – In the late 1930s and early 40s, Dr. Charles Richard Drew, a scientist, researched and developed the modern day blood banking process and long-term storage methods. The American Red Cross adapted his techniques. Ironically, African-Americans could not donate blood to such blood banks, including Dr. Drew.

Blacks in Space

Black History Month - space
– Katherine Johnson – Mrs. Johnson was one of a limited group of black women who worked for NASA. Her job was to be a human computer. It was her calculations that helped send John Glenn into orbit during the Friendship 7 mission. Her story has been told in the hit 2017 film, Hidden Figures.
– Guion Bluford, Jr. – An American astronaut, Guion Bluford, Jr. was the first African-American to travel to space. He spent over 688 Hours in space.
– Dr. Mae Jemison – Dr. Jemison was the first African-American woman to travel to space. She served as mission specialist on the STS-47 Spacelab-J mission in 1992.

Blacks in Arts

– Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Considered the Godmother of Rock & Roll, Tharpe was a singer and electric guitar player. With roots in gospel music, Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded secular music and used guitar techniques that had major influence on mainstream artists, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.
– Langston Hughes – A prolific writer, Hughes was an influential poet, playwright and author during the Harlem Renaissance and beyond. He used African-American themes in his works and was considered an innovator of jazz poetry.
– Edmonia Lewis – Born in 1844, Lewis became the first African-American woman to be internationally known as a professional sculptor. She often depicted her African-American and Native American heritage in her works, distinguishing her from other great sculptors during that time.

Blacks in Medicine

– Dr. Ben Carson – Carson became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital at the age of 33. He performed the first successful separation of conjoined infant twins in 1987.
– Dr. Daniel Hale Williams – The first successful heart surgery in 1893 was performed by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. He also founded the first black-owned hospital in America, Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.
– Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler – In 1864, Crumpler became the first black female in the United States to earn an M.D. degree. She earned her degree at the New England Female Medical College.

During this month, the nation, even world, can discover African-Americans who have developed world-changing ideas and many who have become trailblazers in their respective fields during Black History Month.


About the All-Star Blogger

Teri - MommyWifeLife

Teri Watters is the creator of MommyWifeLife.com, where she regularly blogs about ways to keep the family connected through education, activities and new products.