Black History Month Activities for High School

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Black History Month is used to elevate the recognition of African Americans' experiences and contributions in US history. These activities will give your students ways to engage with Black History Month.

Black History Month

Every February is recognized as Black History Month in the United States, in recognition of the contributions of Africans and African Americans to the cultural, political, economic, scientific, and philosophical development of the country. By high school, most US students have been exposed to Black History Month so these activities are designed to give them a fresh perspective. Please remember that any activities that deal with racial identities and history in the United States will benefit from directly talking to your students about cultural appropriation versus appropriately engaging in culture.

Black History Month Activities

Civil Rights Posters

Divide students into small groups and give them time to explore online databases of images from the Civil Rights Movement. Once they've had a chance to do so, students will create their own Civil Rights protest posters, either modeled directly after images they saw or engaging with those ideas. You can ask students to consider drawing on quotes from figures like Dr. King or other leaders.

If you wish to expand this, you can also ask students to make posters related to the Black Lives Matter movement and give them time to explore the movement's website, as well as images from past marches and protests. You can also consider using any of these posters to organize a basic march or rally in your classroom or around the school.

  • Materials: Computer access, poster paper, art and craft supplies as desired

Green Book Trip

Divide the class into small groups, and provide each group with a copy of The Green Book also called The Negro Motorist Green Book (this is the original publication for black travelers, not the 2018 film). Basic samples of this book can be found online. Each group will randomly draw two destinations from a hat. One of these is their starting point, the other is their destination. Give each group a map of the United States, and ask them to use The Green Book to plot out their trip. If you wish to expand on this, you can ask students to write a short story from the perspective of a black family in the 1950s-1970s taking this trip.

  • Materials: Access to copies of The Green Book (online is fine), maps of the United States, destinations written on slips of paper

Art Activity

Divide the class into groups and provide them with audio and listening equipment. Each group will be given a mix containing a type of jazz music (you can expand this to other African-American musical forms like hip-hop as well). Students will listen to the music, and think about the emotions it evokes, its energy, etc.

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