Polls indicate that in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death in 2020, millions of people attended Black Lives Matter or police brutality protests. Estimates suggest that the number participating may have been 4-5 times as many as attended the 2017 Women’s Marches, which held the record previously. This data suggests that more than ever before, Americans understand that what happens to Black Americans matters for all Americans. Their success and struggles are a reflection of our country’s values and a part of our rich and complex history. And the nomination of the Black Lives Matter movement for the 2021 Nobel peace prize recognizes the significance of its work worldwide. Therefore, teaching about race and racism is important.

Listenwise has curated a collection of Black and African American stories, which offer diverse voices and perspectives on a range of topics and issues. Our Slavery & Reconstruction and Civil Rights Movements collections discuss important periods in Black and American history. As always, we hope that teachers recognize Black History Month with students. It is a time for students to contemplate our nation’s history and develop a deeper sense of cultural consciousness.We also hope, however, that these stories can be used all year round. Consider the following questions about what happens in your classroom from Learning for Justice:

  • How often do your students learn about the contributions of Black individuals to U.S. society?
  • Are your students able to explain to someone else the contributions that Black individuals have made in the United States?
  • How many books or other texts by Black writers do your students read during the academic year?
  • How many books or other texts do your students read during the academic year that highlight Black experiences?
  • If your students’ readings have Black characters, do these characters have positions of power?

This month offers an opportunity to deepen cultural responsiveness in both content focus and teaching practice. We support your efforts with these lesson ideas and resources that can be used to address Black history and its relevance to current events and to highlight underrepresented groups within the curriculum all year round. Read more about the history of Black History Month, and consider using the lessons and resources as well as the “Black” topic tag, and review the resources below to help you this month or any time.

Podcast Stories of Black History

Listening to audio stories featuring people’s voices can connect students to specific moments in time and promote understanding of others’ perspectives. One teacher asked students to listen to an audio story describing the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas during the Civil Rights Movement. The teacher said:

The violence and struggle to gain voting rights became real after listening to the emotions of the speakers and sounds from the event. It really helped students develop empathy, which is harder to do through traditional texts.

The Listenwise stories below can be integrated into classroom lessons in a variety of ways:

Black Youth In Action

Celebrating Individuals

Past

Present

History of Resistance

Slavery, Abolition, and Reconstruction

The Civil Rights Movement

Black Lives Matter

Other Black History Resources

Online Articles

Lessons/Teaching Materials

Contemporary Literature on Antiracist Pedagogies

  • Schooltalk: Rethinking What We Say About and To Students Every Day, by Mica Pollock
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, by Zaretta Hammond
  • We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, by Bettina Love
  • Rethinking Ethnic Studies, edited by R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, Miguel Zavala, Christine Sleeter, and Wayne Au
  • Teaching For Diversity and Social Justice, 3rd Edition, by Maurianna Adams