Black History Month, All Year Round
Every February since 1915, classrooms, libraries, and homeschools around the country make an extra effort to focus on Black Americans who’ve contributed to the scientific, historical, political, and cultural fabric of our collective experience.
It’s easy to look at American history and find examples of white people exploring the world, making discoveries, and gaining recognition. Ask a classroom of fourth graders to name a scientist and it’s likely they’ll call out the name of a white man. Take a look at the books a high school freshman is required to read, and you’ll see lots of names of white people. But of course, white people weren’t the only ones making great strides in science, literature, history, politics, and every other aspect of humanity.
To take a month and make a concentrated effort to highlight Black voices and experiences is a way to ensure all children have a chance to see people who look like them doing important things. That’s not to say that without a Black History Month, we would never study George Washington Carver or James Baldwin. But making specific space in classroom curriculum for Black voices is a way to make certain we include them.
Of course, Black history is American history, and as such should be taught all year round. Let’s use February as a stepping stone on our way to highlighting the Black experience all months of the school year. Doing a unit on space exploration? Don’t forget to discuss the contributions from Guy Bluford and Mae Jemison. Studying inventions? Engineers like Alexa Canady and Lewis Latimer should be on the list of biographies.
All children need to see themselves represented in lessons about people doing great things. That’s how we foster the next generation of leaders!
Learn about Mary Jackson in our Picture Book Science collection!