Celebrating Black history beyond February

February might be winding down, but the conversations around Black history don’t need to end. 

In the final post of our Black History Month series, we’re taking a look at incorporating Black history throughout the year — and how Along can help teachers and students keep connecting over the topic. From seeing certain subjects in a new light to gaining a fresh perspective on local events, students will have a lot to think through and reflect on as they learn more about Black history and its impact on the world today.

See below for inspiration and ideas on how to continue the conversation.

A better understanding of American history.

Black history shouldn’t seem like a separate topic or lesson from the rest of American history. It doesn’t need to be confined to February, but instead can be weaved through every subject  — from English to Social Studies to Math. By making space for black authors, scientists, musicians and political figures, you give students a deeper understanding of both the subject at-hand, and also the history of the United States. 

Want tips on incorporating Black history into your teaching? Check out this Edutopia article.

Look local.

Just like Black history doesn’t need to be confined to a single month, it also shouldn’t seem to occur “somewhere else.” What has happened (and happens) locally is a key part of helping students understand the way Black history is ingrained in a place. It provides students the opportunity to understand the bigger picture behind their community. 

Make sure to check in with students through Along as you explore local history to discover their reactions and reflections. There might be a lot for students to unpack and consider as they see their neighborhood, state, and even country in a new way. 

Take a look at this Edweek article for a deeper dive on teaching local Black history.

The past is present.

Black history isn’t frozen in the past. It continues to impact the world today and current events. Part of teaching Black history is communicating the through-lines from yesterday to now. This means sometimes introducing difficult conversations. If you need a hand in starting those conversations, Along has you covered.

Start by checking out the following educator resource: Engage in Conversations About Current Events. This resource can help you approach topics that may be uncomfortable — and that’s okay. In fact, explaining that you don’t have all the answers is a crucial part of forming bonds. It allows students to admit when they’re confused and are struggling to work out the best path forward. You can even reinforce that sense of humility by repeating that you’re not always sure about things during an Along check-in. The important thing is that you and your students are working together to reflect on complicated topics.

As we say good-bye to February, we wanted to provide one final word of inspiration about Black History Month. In 2016, Barack Obama had this to say about the annual celebration:

“Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington or from some of our sports heroes. It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.”

It’s in this spirit that we hope teaching Black history is ultimately a subject of strength, community and connection. Today…and tomorrow.