"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.
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:
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..."
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:
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:
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.
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.
From Louisiana State University comes this Webliography of links to other sites.
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.
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.
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
Copyright Â© 2010 Education World
Originally published 02/23/1998
Last updated 02/24/2010