Dear Educators and Parents,
Black history is American History. February is known for it’s bad weather, Valentine’s Day and growing interest in college hoops. More importantly, February is Black History Month, and it’s important for our country to take some time to reflect on the importance African Americans have played in American history and what our country and the world can learn from this experience.
One of the darkest aspects of our collective history is the institutional racism and discrimination that African Americans have experienced during most of our country’s existence. When we use the word collective, we are acknowledging that this is important to all of us as a group. It is important for our students of color to know the history of their people. It is important and relevant for our white students to know that people of color have made valuable contributions to our history and culture.
The National theme for Black History Month this year is The Black Vote. We would like to encourage you to take time personally to learn about this important subject that still impacts elections today.
We would like to encourage every single school, no matter the demographics, to make changes to their curriculum, their media, and books so that all children are being educated that people of color have had important and encompassing impact to American history and life. Implicit bias starts early in young children and erasure of black history devalues the contributions that young children in our communities are capable of. Our main goal is to increase awareness of the contributions that African Americans have made throughout American history. We hope that this includes instruction and learning about the Great Migration along with the Dust Bowl Era, that students are also learning about the women behind the success of the space race along with the first astronauts in space. Other important contributions we hope that students learn about are the heroic actions of Robert Smalls along with other African American civil war heroes. Again, teaching about and celebrating the history of Black people in America isn’t just for Black students, it is for all students.
These are some actions we would like to see implemented during Black History Month, in hopes of a more inclusive curriculum in the future.
- Books with children and adults of color represented in libraries.
- Curriculum being taught to all students. Here are 4 weekly lessons that we have created.
- Ask your music teacher to sing the Black National Anthem during music time. I have recently done this at the school I work for and it is so powerful for the kids to hear this song and know the words. Here is a link to “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
- Bulletin Board displayed in a common area celebrating important African American Contributions.
- Teachers and principals are encouraged to read the book Stolen Justice The Struggle For African American Voting Rights by Lawrence Goldstone. More books are included below.
We appreciate your efforts and consideration in teaching about this important part of Americana. This is a benefit to all the children in our communities. Resources can be found at asalh.org (the website for National Black History Month)
Children’s Equity League
2020 Black History Month Booklist
Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
By Jonah Winter
Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box
by Michael S. Bandy
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, Laura Freeman (Illustrator)
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate, Illustrated by Don Tate
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews, Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renée Watson, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree
Jazz Age Josephine: Dancer, singer—who’s that, who? Why, that’s MISS Josephine Baker, to you! by Jonah Winter
What Color Is My World?: The Lost History Of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Don Tate
The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend by Ann Ingalls
In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage by Alan Schroeder, Illustrated by JaeMe Bereal
Bad News For Outlaws: The Remarkable Life Of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Brothers In Hope by Mary Williams, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
A Weed Is a Flower : The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki, Illustrated by Aliki
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, A.G. Ford (illus.) Desmond and the Very Mean Word, A Story of Forgiveness. (Candlewick Press).
The 2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Illustrator Winner is given to Javaka Steptoe, illustrator and author of “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat,” published by Little, Brown and Company.
The 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Illustrator Winner is given to Christopher Myers, illustrator of “Firebird.”Written by Misty Copeland and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Group USA, the illustrations of Myers depict the brilliant colorful world of the ballerina with its dancers on en pointe.
“JOSEPHINE: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker” illustrated by Christian Robinson written by Patricia Hruby Powell and published by Chronicle Books LLC.
Javaka Steptoe, author of Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix, written by Gary Golio (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company)
Nikki Grimes, author of Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Orchard Books/Scholastic)