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"History is people's memory and without a memory, man is demoted to the level of lower animals."
--- Malcolm X
"Not having been taught black history -- except for the once-a-year hanging up of the pictures of Booker Washington, George Washington Carver, and Mary McLeod Bethune that marked Negro History Week -- we did not know how much of the riches of America we had missed."
--- Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

The quilt of America's rich history includes patches from many peoples and many cultures. Black Americans are featured in abundance on that quilt. Martin Luther King Jr. and Louis Armstrong are there. Harriet Tubman and Langston Hughes are too. Rosa Parks and Chuck Berry. Barbara Jordan and Muhammed Ali. Without their inclusion, America's quilt would lack color, texture, life.

This month -- February, Black History Month -- is a time when many teachers draw special attention to the contributions of black Americans to "America's quilt." Whatever grade the students are in, teachers can find plenty of rich Black History resources on the Internet -- Web sites that can help students everywhere "stitch together" a portrait of the African-American experience.

Today, Education World takes a brief look at some of the best Internet sites for students of Black History. Creative teachers will find valuable, adaptable resources at all of these sites.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SITES FOR PRIMARY STUDENTS

Primary teachers, don't miss this site! My favorite site for young children is the Kids Zone Web site from AFRO-Americ@'s Black History Museum Web pages. Kids Zone pages include a "Discover Africa" page. Here you'll find a large map of Africa. Click on many of the countries to learn fun facts about the geography and people of those countries.

At Kids Zone, you'll also find myths and fables -- from Trinidad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, and more. Of course, those stories include a couple folk tales from Anansi, most kids' favorite spider! Each story is beautifully illustrated. You might use the stories as listening activities. (Or you might just read and enjoy!) Check out a folk tale from Trinidad, How Monkey Looked for Trouble. Read the story to your students, or let them log on to the site and read it to themselves. Then ask the questions below to check students' comprehension:

  • What was the woman carrying to market? (a gourd full of coconut cakes)
  • What trouble did she have on her way to market? (She stubbed her toe on a rock and dropped her coconut cakes.)
  • What did Monkey tell the shopkeeper he wanted to buy? (some trouble)
  • What was in the bag the shopkeeper gave to Monkey? (three fierce dogs)
  • Where did Monkey go to escape his trouble? (He climbed a tree.)
  • According to the tale, why do monkeys still live in trees today? (To stay away from trouble!) THINKING QUESTIONS (Answers will vary.)
  • Can you think of another good title that the author might have used for this story?
  • What do you think is the lesson of this story?
Kids Zone provides a Black History Quiz too -- the perfect conclusion to your Black History study.

Of course, reading is central to any primary teacher's curriculum. Your school and local libraries are probably full of great picture books related to the black experience. Collect a variety of picture books to share with students and to have in your classroom. Be sure to include geography and biography picture books -- with real photos!

"All children deserve to see positive images of children like themselves in the books they read," says Kay E. Vandergrift in the introduction to her Powerful African-American Images Revealed in Picture Books Web page. Vandergrift provides a long, long list of titles, and has made a "special effort to find realistic stories and images, rather than only folk tales and legends..."

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SITES FOR MIDDLE LEVEL STUDENTS

Teachers in grades 3-8 have a wide variety of excellent Internet sites to draw from. Be sure to check out the Stamp on Black History site, mentioned in the primary section above, if you're looking for bios of famous black Americans. If it's black history you're looking for, be sure to see the Black History Tour that is part of that site.

Two other sites for middle graders are worthy of mention -- and they both tap the resources of well-known encyclopedias.

If I had to pick a favorite, mine would be The Brittanica Guide to Black History. Your choice might be different. This site hooks me because I'm a big fan of using timelines to teach history (see Timelines: Timeless Teaching Tools, a January LESSON PLANNING story on Education World). Click on Brittanica's "Black History Timeline" for a superb resource. Scroll this lengthy timeline from 1517 to the present. Along the way, connect to Brittanica stories about important people, places, and events. An excellent way to learn!

Looking for additional sites to interest your students? Some other sites for middle graders:

  • Rosa Parks: The Woman Who Changed a Nation
    A special story, which includes quotes from Parks and updates about her life.
  • National Civil Rights Museum
    Take a virtual museum tour! Learn about the events and meet the people who were involved in landmark events such as the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Montgomery bus boycott, the march on Washington, the Selma-Montgomery march, and more.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SITES FOR UPPER LEVEL STUDENTS

All the sites in the two sections above provide valuable information that high-schoolers can use. But a couple targeted sites deserve special mention.

From the Library of Congress comes an excellent Web site, The African-American Mosaic. This site is a guide to primary source materials related to the black American experience. The exhibit covers only four topics: Colonization, Abolition, Migrations, and the WPA. The materials available illustrate the breadth of the LOC collection. Students can link to all sorts of interesting primary source materials, just a handful of which are listed below:

  • The African Intelligencer, a newspaper published in July 1820 by the American Colonization Society.
  • A sermon delivered in 1791 by Jonathan Edwards, Jr., in which he forcefully argues against ten common pro-slavery positions.
  • The Slave's Friend, published monthly for children by the American Anti-Slavery Society; an 1836 issue includes abolitionist poems, songs, and stories.
  • A bar graph from the eleventh census shows the percentage of whites and blacks for 16 states at each census from 1790 to 1890.
  • A copy of a 1950 Bureau of Census map shows the distribution of the black population, which at that time accounted for about 11 percent of the U.S. population.
Another excellent site worth checking out:
  • AFRO-Americ@'s Black History Museum site offers interactive exhibits that explore in detail the topics of slavery, the Tuskegee Airmen, Jackie Robinson, the Black Panther party, and more.

HAVE YOU SEEN THESE LESSONS ON EDUCATION WORLD?

Before moving along to other Internet sites of interest, be sure to see dozens of lesson planning ideas in Education World's Black History Month Archive.

PLUS!

Following are the answers for Education World's four Black History Month Treasure Hunts, a different hunt for different grade levels.

Black History 101. 1. Booker T. Washington, 2. Sojourner Truth, 3. Rosa Parks, 4. George Washington Carver, 5. Harriet Tubman, 6. Mae Jemison, 7. Frederick Douglass, 8. Thurgood Marshall, 9. Jackie Robinson, 10. Jesse Owens.

Black History 102. 1. Nat Turner, 2. Bessie Coleman, 3. Scott Joplin, 4. Roberto Clemente, 5. Louis Armstrong, 6. Arthur Ashe, 7. Ida Wells-Barnett, 8. Benjamin Banneker, 9. Joe Louis, 10. Langston Hughes.

Black History 103. 1. Jan Matzeliger, 2. Chuck Berry, 3. Leontyne Price, 4. Shirley Chisholm, 5. Malcolm X, 6. Duke Ellington, 7. Barbara Jordan, 8. W.E.B. DuBois, 9. Medger Evers, 10. Ralph Bunche.

Black History 104. 1. Joseph Rainey, 2. Elijah McCoy, 3. Crispus Attucks, 4. Mary Terrell, 5. Mary McLeod Bethune, 6. Madame C.J. Walker, 7. Jean-Baptist-Point DuSable, 8. Carter C. Woodson, 9. Charles Drew, 10. Paul Robeson.

ADDITIONAL WEB SITES OF INTEREST

The Anacostia Museum
Online exhibitions include The Meaning of Kwanzaa; Juneteenth Freedom Revisited; The Real McCoy: African American Invention and Innovation 1619-1930; and Climbing Jacob's Ladder: The Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American Cities 1740-1877.

Patchwork of African-American Life
Pacific Bell provides five activities for integrating the WWW into classroom learning.

Negro Baseball Leagues
This comprehensive resource includes info about the history, players, and teams of the Negro Baseball Leagues.

African Americana
From Louisiana State University comes this Webliography of links to other sites.

Black History
A list of links to sites of interest from the Universal Black Pages.

Chronicling Black Lives in Colonial New England
A 1997 Christian Science Monitor article about historians trying to piece together a picture of life in the Colonial Northeast.

WDAS History
Many leaders of the Civil Rights movement took time out to be interviewed on WDAS, a radio station in Philadelphia. This Web site chronicles the people and interviews during this important period in history.

HOW ABOUT A BLACK HISTORY MONTH QUIZ?

The Martin Luther King Jr. Game
This is the quiz created for kids by surfnetkids.com.

The Internet African-American History Challenge
Read essays about the twelve black Americans featured on the 1998 Blackfax Calendar (some familiar and some not so) and take a quiz after reading!

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Originally published 02/23/1998
Last updated 02/24/2010



 

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