Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Why Celebrate Black History Month

Cynthia Dortch


To utilize Internet resources for the immersion of students into Black History, they learn about the culture, heritage, family, church, and politics of the African-American and why we honor their accomplishments. Then they make class presentations


The student reads text and determines the main idea or essential message, identifies relevant supporting details and facts, and arranges events in chronological order.

The student drafts and revises writing in cursive that-focuses on the topic;-has a logical organizational pattern, including a beginning, middle, conclusion, and transitional devices;-has ample development of supporting ideas;-demonstrates a command of language including precision in word choice;-generally has correct subject/verb agreement;-generally has correct verb and noun forms;-with few exceptions, has sentences that are complete, except when fragments are usedpurposefully;-uses a variety of sentence structures; and-generally follows the conventions of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.


-Books on African-Americans such as Martin Luther King, James Weldon Johnson, Mary McLeod-Bethune, etc.
-Pencils, paper
-Comptonís (or any) encyclopedia on cd rom


1. You might wear African attire complete with braids and sandals to peak studentís interest in the African culture if possible.

2. Decorate room with Black History Month theme to include authentic artifacts from Africa such as a zebra skin, pictures of the country, pictures of other African Americans.

3. Gather all materials in classroom for student use.

4. Duplicate the rubric in the associated file.


In this lesson:
Students will develop an appreciation of why black history month is celebrated.

They will research how and why such celebrations began and their research will show them the significance of Black History Month being celebrated in February.
To begin the lesson:
Prior to beginning the lesson, share the attached rubric with students so they will know what they are working toward.
1. Bring in African artifacts (put pictures on wall of famous blacks, post their art, and play music for observation). I used authentic paintings from an artist, a collection of black literary books, and sculptures brought back from Africa.

2. Draw from prior knowledge of students through discussion what students know about many of the items bought in.

3. The whole class learns African Vocabulary words they encounter in their research to use as part of presentations : Jambo means hello, shule is school, asante is thank you, hodi-hodi is hurry, yebo means yes, watoto means children, la means no, tatu means three, acha is stop, tisa means nine. This is used as an additional culture enrichment activity as they will insert them when they can in the presentations.

4. Divide students into four groups and assign each group a topic: heritage, family, politics and church to do research on relative to the African-Americans. Each group will decide upon the method of presentation concerning the information they find about their topics. This can be a song, poem, graphic (drawing, picture, collage), or a skit.

5. The group assigned Heritage has to research and present something about ancestral roots, the people who were key players in the development of the descent from Africa into slavery, then the Civil Rights movement to the present. The people could include Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson. Other topics might include the art, dance, the music such as rap, gospel, or jazz.

6. The group assigned Family has to research and present the African-American household topic: the design of the family, how has it changed. How has it moved from the traditional, having a mom and a dad to single moms? Has it moved from close family ties to family having little importance?

7. The group assigned to research Politics should cover topics such as the Equal Rights Amendment, voting rights, Affirmative Action, political figures such as Colin Powell, etc.

8. The group assigned to research the Church should cover topics such as why it is the heart of Black America and Negro spirituals.

9. Students do 10 minute presentations outlining contributions of people and discuss the connection with February becoming the celebration month for Black history with pictures, posters, other art work, taped music. scores, etc.

10. Students will need to know that the teacher will be assessing their notes and that will have to be added into the instructions as well.


Student presentations should be assessed using the rubric found in the associated file.
Formatively assess the notes students have taken to see if students have identified the main ideas of the text (encyclopedia, books,) listed supporting details, and presented facts in a sequential order.


This file contains an oral presentation rubric.

Web Links

Web supplement for Why Celebrate Black History Month
Memphis District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Web supplement for Why Celebrate Black History Month
Tulane University

Attached Files

An oral presentation rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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