February is Black History Month, a time when the nation reflects and pays tribute to the generations of African Americans who fought with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society, according to the official website. There are teaching resources provided from the National Archives, Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum available here.
Why We Celebrate Black History Month?
Below are a few lessons learned about why teaching and learning African American and other histories of our diverse U.S population is so important in today’s landscape.
- History grounds us in our roots. We need to understand where we have come from in order to understand where we are going.
- History helps us understand change. History is a continuous documentation of our past, including great triumphs and grave mistakes. History is also about the place.
- History reveals patterns in our pasts. Another way this lesson of change is important is by helping us understand the patterns that arise in our shared timeline. History repeats itself, as the saying goes.
- History provides a foundation for activism. Only by having a firm grasp on history can we tackle the kinds of political, social or educational reform that we want to see happen.
- History makes us more empathetic. It also provides a rather strong foundation for empathy across cultures.
- History can inspire us to learn more. Finally, history is important because it is a long, nearly endless collection of stories, lessons, and philosophies to learn.
- U.S. history, Colorado and Denver history makes no sense without African American, Latino, Native American and Asian history.
- Our nation’s present problems with race and intolerance make no sense if we don’t know the history behind them.
- All peoples’ history is American history, and it should be taught throughout the year across the curriculum—not confined to a single month.
Week One - HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities)
HBCU Week: This week we will be celebrating Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The Higher Education Act of 1965 defined HBCU’s as any nationally recognized and accredited college or university, as defined by the Secretary of Education, whose principal mission is to educate Black Americans. There are currently 107 HBCU’s and despite the original mission to provide higher educational opportunities for African Americans, they have historically enrolled and graduated many students, regardless of their ethnicity, race, or income level.
Today the HBCU experience is unforgettable. The social experience and unique traditions are one of the many reasons alumni continue to sport “hoodie pride” and other school paraphernalia. HBCUs have shaped generations of black students, providing unique campus traditions and family-like environments. Add to that a curriculum that takes the social and historical concerns of black Americans into account. Simply put, HBCUs are not just teaching history – they MAKE history everyday.
CELEBRATE: SPORT YOUR FAVORITE HBCU SCHOOL SWAG!
Week Two- NAAPID (National African American Parent Involvement Day)
NAAPID: National African American Parent Involvement Day was created on February 10, 1997. The goal was to create a call to action to get African American/Black parents more involved in their children's education. The hope is that this day will provide opportunities for open dialogue among teachers, parents, and students, which will lead to a more conducive learning environment for African -American students from kindergarten through college. Building healthy relationships with families that often feel unheard or misunderstood can aid in our student’s overall experiences. Here is a link to the history and purpose of NAAPID.
CELEBRATE: INVITE YOUR AFRICAN AMERICAN/BLACK FAMILIES IN TO YOUR BUILDING TO SHADOW, VOLUNTEER OR MEET WITH ADMIN OR TEACHERS.
Week Three - Spoken Word & Music
MUSIC & SPOKEN WORD: Music is a universal language. The music of African Americans is one of the most poetic and inescapable examples of the importance of the African American experience to the cultural heritage of all Americans, regardless of race or origin. For the Black community, Black music has always been a messenger, an outlet, and a space of freedom, it has transcended time to make its mark on every generation. Music and singing and other forms of artistry played a critical role in inspiring, mobilizing, and giving voice to the civil rights movement and many major movements in our society.
CELEBRATE: HIGHLIGHT MUSIC, POETRY OR ARTISTS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO AMERICAN CULTURE.
Week Four - Crown Act
CROWN ACT: The CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, prohibits racial discrimination based on hair texture and protective hairstyles. The CROWN Act is the first legislation passed at the state level to prohibit such discrimination. Alongside Kelli Richadson Lawson, a group of 4 women created and a coalition of 91 women fought and continue to fight to pass the bill all over the U.S.
Richadson Lawson said, “Being able to wear our hair in the workplace does not affect the output of our work, but it allows us to come fully represented in the workplace. If we’re not allowed to do that, it affects our economic potential to take care of our families and to make a living. It’s important for little girls to be able to go to school with their freshly braided hair, if that’s how they choose to wear their hair, and to be proud and feel beautiful. We know from the (Dove CROWN Research Study for Girls) that over 50 percent of all Black girls are discriminated against by the time they’re five. The discrimination starts early and continues. So, this is a major issue for a huge group of people in this country, and the CROWN Act allows us to have the freedom to wear our hair how it comes out of our heads.”
CELEBRATE: LEARN ABOUT THE CROWN ACT AND THE DIVERSE STYLING OF ETHNIC HAIR!
Resources for the Classroom
- 28 Days of Black History - Educational and actionable ways to celebrate Black History, sent to your email daily.
Black History and National Park Services - Lessons and instructions for you to explore people, places, and stories that are Black History related from more than 400 national parks and communities across the country through National Park Service programs and partners.
- Black Health Matters: Home - Black Health Matters provides information about health and well-being from a service-oriented perspective–with lots of upbeat, positive solutions and tips, including: Health, Beauty, Mind & Body, Nutrition & Fitness.
- African American Wellness Project - Black Health Disparities - AAWP focuses on those tools that you need to get the best quality healthcare regardless of insurance or circumstance.
- Colorado Black Health Collaborative (CBHC) - The mission of the Colorado Black Health Collaborative is to achieve health equity in Colorado’s Black community.
- Black History Month Resource Guide for Educators and Families – Center for Racial Justice in Education - The Center for Racial Justice in Education’s mission is to train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in our schools and communities. At the Center for Racial Justice in Education, we envision a world where all young people learn and thrive in racially equitable, liberating, and empowering educational spaces.
- Honoring Black Agency & Black Joy - Facing History and Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Our resources address racism, antisemitism, and prejudice at pivotal moments in history, we also have resources that explore the Armenian Genocide, the Civil Rights Movement and race in America.
African American History in Denver and DPS - Timeline - curated by Sylvia Bookhardt, the history of Denver Public Schools follows the challenges and accomplishments made by individuals within Denver’s Black and African American community. Despite historical oppression, trauma, discrimination, and legal exclusion, contributions made by trailblazers within the Black and African American community stand as essential lessons today. It is important to explore history to deepen personal awareness. As awareness is deepened, commitment to keep this history relevant will uplift and enrich a personal experience and journey that is meaningful.
List of Black Authors and Illustrators - Click on the author/illustrator name and it links you to their home page or a website that features that particular person. On the list 3 books featured per name. Contains information on checking out Sora eBooks.
Black Authors: Sora eBook and audiobook collection - Sora collection highlighting authors who identify as members of the Black community.
Black Boy Joy: Sora eBook and audiobook collection - Sora collection celebrating the humanity of black boys.
#1000BlackGirlBooks: Sora eBook and audiobook collection - Sora collection of books based on Marley Dias' initiative to curate and promote books that reflect the lived experiences of Black girls.
History Liberated: Sora eBook and audiobook collection - Sora collection highlighting the perspectives of historically marginalized groups to provide a well-rounded view of our nation's past and present.
Harlem Renaissance: Sora eBook and audiobook collection - Sora collection of books about the Harlem Renaissance and its leaders, as well as books written by Harlem Renaissance creators.
Diversity in Aquatics - Educate, promote, and support swimming, water safety, and healthy aquatics activities for vulnerable populations.
Jordan Casteel Paints Her Community - Art 21 - Where does a painter find her subject matter? With a process that takes her from the streets of Harlem to her studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn, artist Jordan Casteel paints vibrant large scale portraits, making visible the often unrepresented humanity of Black men. At first struggling to find subject matter that could speak to the political realities of police violence and implicit bias, Casteel drew inspiration from her twin brother. The film follows Casteel as she travels from a brunch at her aunt's Harlem home to a studio visit with university students, to an informal hangout with friends and finally back to the streets of Harlem, mirroring the artist’s own navigation of New York's diverse racial and cultural spaces. Recognizing her complex position as a Black woman painting the bodies of Black men, Casteel nevertheless feels present in the work.
Can Art amend History? - Titus Kaphar - TED - Artist Titus Kaphar makes paintings and sculptures that wrestle with the struggles of the past while speaking to the diversity and advances of the present. In an unforgettable live workshop, Kaphar takes a brush full of white paint to a replica of a 17th-century Frans Hals painting, obscuring parts of the composition and bringing its hidden story into view. There's a narrative coded in art like this, Kaphar says. What happens when we shift our focus and confront unspoken truths?
Life Doesn't Frighten Me - Maya Angelou - Poetry by Maya Angelou and art by Jean-Michel Basquiat provide students with a creative prompt for addressing and overcoming imaginary fears through the power of art and the spoken word.
Black Representation in Art - Black artists have made and continue to make significant contributions to our understanding of contemporary art by addressing issues and topics that are often left out of the canon of traditional art history.
Decolonizing the Music Room - Songs, units, music, biographies and discussion forums for people to discuss and examine different perspectives of music making, and how music has been used throughout history for social justice, and how music can be used as a system of oppression or as a vehicle for change.
List of Black Composers and Vocal Groups - This is a list of songs and pictures of Black composers not taught in traditional music classrooms.
Music by Black Composers - Classical - Music by Black Composers (MBC) is dedicated to helping to bring greater diversity to the ranks of classical music performers, composers, and audiences by making the music of Black composers available to everyone. MBC’s Living Composers Directory is designed for those seeking to commission; for performers, conductors, and concert programmers seeking existing music; and for other researchers and scholars of contemporary classical music.
Black Culture Connection - This PBS website offers a wide variety of lessons, musical examples and videos ranging from the "history of" to "How to Create; your own Hip-Hop.
Decolonize the Dance Classroom - From "Momentum Stage" this collection is full of resources that feature presenters and content that comes from diverse perspectives and not through channels of systemic privilege.
Decolonize the Drama and Theatre Arts Classroom - From "Momentum Stage" this collection is full of resources that feature presenters and content that comes from diverse perspectives and not through channels of systemic privilege.
Drop me off in Harlem - An interactive experience by ArtsEdge. Discover the themes and works that emerged when creative and intellectual voices intersected during the Harlem Renaissance.
- 28 Days of Black History - Educational and actionable ways to celebrate Black History, sent to your email daily.
View the gallery below to see how Stedman Elementary and Hill Campus of Arts & Sciences celebrated Black History 23'
Historically, Stedman has been the capital for correcting racial injustice within the city of Denver, starting with the Keyes case in 1973. Every day, we work on celebrating the different cultures represented within the Park Hill community. It has been a long standing tradition (at least in the last three decades!) to use the month of February to continue to celebrate the legacy of the past, present, and future of our Black neighbors and community by coming together and showcasing Black culture, history, and much more with our students, staff, and community members together enjoying a meal and evening program. It is always one of the most beautiful nights of the year!
At Hill Campus they celebrated their 3rd annual Black History Month Block Party! They celebrated Black History Month with an art showcase at the event, the Skyhawk Choir singing the National Anthem, having Black Business owners attend as vendors, music, food trucks and MORE! Thank you Hill for living our DPS Core Value of FUN!
Excerpt From Dr. Bailey
Read an excerpt from Dr. Bailey's "Importance of Broadening Our View of History":
You can tell a great deal about a country and a people by what they deem important enough to remember, to create moments for — what they put in their museums, their textbooks and what they celebrate. We also can learn more about a country by what it chooses to forget — its mistakes, its disappointments, and its embarrassments. The author James Baldwin wrote, “It is the past that makes the present coherent.” For many Americans, Black History Month is a time to reflect on the past, recognize the present and look forward to the possibilities of the future. A broader view of our histories can benefit all students and make school a place where all children can feel valued, appreciated and safe.