As most of us know, February is Black History Month, and while it’s nearly over there is still time to delve into some resources on African American history. Black History Month 2009 is particularly special because of this year’s historic inauguration. In the spirit of this month, many organizations have created digital spotlights dedicated to Black History Month, which include everything from biographies to games to trivia. Below are a variety of web sites offering informative and often fun resources that can be used throughout the year.
EDSITEment – Black History Month
Find lesson plans, information, and links to more resources on EDSITEment’s Black History Month page. “In this feature, teachers, parents, and students will be introduced to a few of the most influential voices and the most memorable images from African American history, art, and literature.”
The Martin Luther King Jr: Research and Education Institute
This institute “supports programs that serve as an enduring link between Stanford’s research resources and King’s dream of global peace with social justice.” The web site is rich in resources that include (among many other things) video clips, photo galleries, lesson plans, and student resources/study guides.
Drop me off in Harlem: Exploring the Intersections
Read literature excerpts, listen to music, and watch performances by notable Harlem Renaissance actors, writers, musicians, artists, dancers, and activists. Learn about Harlem, the neighborhood, as you read about various streets, alleys, and landmarks. Delve into different themes and variations—the role of social dancing, black writers, or Harlem newsstands and their role in getting such voices heard. There are also activities that can be done at home or in the classroom:
- Why Harlem? has activities that explain what it was about this New York neighborhood that inspired so many African Americans.
- Collaboration, Influence, and Support “explores the many complex relationships between the pivotal Harlem Renaissance figures and some of the enduring works that resulted from these associations.”
Celebrate Black History Month on Biography.com
Features include an interactive timeline that covers everything from the first African American slaves to the inauguration of President Obama. Each historical date on the timeline includes an event, a series of facts, and a quick quiz. Read about the origin of Black History Month, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Foundations of Freedom, the latter of which has snippets of information about major themes in African American history. Peruse biographies of notable African Americans. Take a tour of the Apollo Theater, “the bastion of African-American culture and achievement.”
Black History on History.com
Like Biography.com, the History.com features an interactive timeline with photographs, videos, and artifacts (such as political buttons) that accompany the synopses of historical African American milestones. You can,
- Watch abbreviated documentaries on everything from W.E.B. Dubois and the Niagara Movement to Malcom X or my personal favorite, The Harlem Renaissance;
- Look at maps from African Slave Routes to Public School Segregation by State in 1954;
- Read biographies of iconic African Americans; or
- Brush up on your trivia.
You Tube Screening Room: Black History Themed Movies
(Synopses taken from web site)
- Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony
Winner of the Audience Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, “Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony” examines the central role black South African freedom music played in the long battle and triumph over Apartheid.
This expertly animated short recounts a story from the ancient African oral tradition, detailing how the merging of life and death gave birth to a beautiful musical instrument: the hungu. “Hungu” won Best Animated Short at the 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival.
- Electric Purgatory
Screened at ten international film festivals, “Electric Purgatory” reveals and explores the struggles black rock musicians have faced as they try to build audiences in an unfriendly industry.
- The 13th Amendment
In “The 13th Amendment,” follow a 90-year-old great grandmother as she casts her first-ever vote for an African American President. Timely and moving, it was the winner of CNN’s 2008 iReporter Film Festival.