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Black History Month: Lesson Plans and Resources for the Classroom

February 01, 2021

Black history is an integral part of American history. February provides an opportunity to introduce classroom discussions and reflections around the role Black Americans have played in shaping our nation. While this dedicated time provides an opportunity to dig deeper into connections with the past, it’s also a reminder to continue learning about and incorporating the history and contributions of Black Americans into the curriculum all year long. 

In celebration of Black History Month, we are sharing resources from iCivics, as well as partner organizations to support learning and conversations in the classroom.

Five iCivics Resources to Use This Month

The Road to Civil Rights Lesson Plan

Discover the people, groups, and events behind the Civil Rights Movement. Learn about means of non-violent protest, opposition to the movement, and identify how it took all three branches of the federal government to effect change. Protest posters, fictional diary entries, and a map of the movement's major events develop a greater understanding of the struggle for civil rights.

The Nashville Sit-ins DBQuest

What makes a movement successful? The people? The actions? The outcome? In this DBQuest, students find out that answering this question is more involved than it may seem. Each of the three primary sources reveals a new perspective on the Nashville Sit-In Movement of 1960, and leads to a deeper understanding of what it means to work for change.

Brown v. Board of Education Mini-Lesson

This mini-lesson covers the basics of the Supreme Court’s decision that overturned “separate but equal” in public schools. Students learn about segregation and “equality under the law.” 

Little Rock: Executive Order 10730 DBQuest

When President Eisenhower authorized troops under federal authority to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in 1957, he became the first president since Reconstruction to use federal forces to help enforce equal rights for African Americans. Using the example of Executive Order 10730, students will explore how executive orders can be used to enforce the law. The story of integrating Little Rock Central High School doesn’t start or stop with Eisenhower’s executive order. Dive into the downloadable teaching resources to share more of the history with your students through the use of primary source documents.  

Voting Rights Lesson Plan

Explore the evolution of voting rights in the United States through an interactive PowerPoint presentation highlighting landmark changes. Following the presentation and class discussion, students apply the new knowledge of voting legislation to individual scenarios through a class activity. 

VIDEO: Students and the Struggle for School Integration

In this video, students learn about the activism of teenager Barbara Johns. In 1951, she organized over 400 students to protest in support of better conditions at their segregated high school in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The students' actions would lead to a lawsuit that became one of the five cases represented in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.

VIDEO: The NAACP Legal Defense Fund

In this video, students learn about a team of lawyers dedicated to achieving racial justice through the legal system. Formed in 1940 as part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) raised money, amassed lawyers, and launched lawsuits throughout the country to fight segregation. Their work as the country's first civil and human rights law firm continues to impact society today. 

Resources From Our Partners

Black history is more than teaching about the civic strategy and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. As we work to expand our resources to better integrate the contributions as well as social, political, and historical contexts of Black Americans in civics, we invite you to check out these collections from a few of our partners:

Resources Coming Soon to iCivics

To be released mid-February:

  • A new DBQuest on the Emancipation statue, monuments, and memory