Black History Month means different things to different Black people. Because of this, how we perceive and participate in it is often varied. This has been true for Black people of all ages from the time that we become aware of the existence of Black History Month. We learn what it is during our formative years, but not what it entails - or rather what it should entail - for those obligated to live the Black experience.
This blog entry offers valuable resources, a fresh perspective, and useful suggestions on curriculum ideas that parents and teachers can use to expand and enrich the knowledge of Black children on Black Americans during Black History Month in 2021.
Context is vital.
Contextual learning is best achieved through storytelling. Black History Month is a time to present the stories of past and present Black figures to Black children so that they can see, that they too, encountered prejudice, racism, adversity, disparity in treatment, and other Black esoteric challenges - and most significantly, were able to overcome it all with courage, resilience, and self-determination.
This is key in developing a sense of who they are in relation to the world they live in, what it means to be Black, and what is required to thrive and prosper in the Black experience. We must ensure that Black children learn more than dates and historical facts. They need to learn valuable lessons that hyper-focused, Black History Month curriculums should offer. None of which, at a young age, is more crucial than the twice as good philosophy, or the 2x's Rule.
Teachers play a critical role in imparting these lessons. Some are better qualified to do it than others, but all can teach the ABCs of Black History. It's not really about being getter qualified, but about making a better effort to devise thoughtful and relevant curriculums to feed the fertile Black minds in their classrooms. There are some do's and don'ts that elementary school teachers should take heed to, specifically regarding how grade school kids are taught about slavery and its long-lasting effects.
Slavery seems like a natural starting point when discussing Black History curriculums, but slavery in the context of World History vs US History, particularly transatlantic enslavement, provides much needed context to understand the impetus of slavery and the origins of white power. Middle school students can embrace this, at least conceptually. Again, if contextualized properly, events of the past can shed light on the systemic issues of today, which after all, is the purpose of history.
Finally, remember that Black History Month is not just about enlightenment; it's about Black empowerment. It's about the celebration of Black freedom, opportunity, achievement, and culture. It's about reflecting on where we've been, what we've been through, and what we are capable of doing individually, and as a race. Our history shows that Black lives have always mattered.
May your Black History Month be a historic one.