It’s Black History Month, and the perfect time to celebrate the often overlooked achievements of Black Americans throughout history. Black history is American history and an essential part of our country’s story and future. February is the perfect time to talk to children not only about the achievements and triumphs, but the obstacles and roadblocks that Black Americans have faced and continue to face today. We’ve rounded up some helpful resources, books, and local events to help get those important conversations started.
“Talking Gets Us There” – Things to Watch During Black History Month
The first step is talking about it! Kids can change the world, but first they have to be invited to the conversation. Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman caught up with PBS Kids in this video to share her poem “Talking Gets Us There”. In it, Gorman shares how talking and using your voice can bring about change. PBS Kids has lots more amazing 2022 Black History Month resources for kids ages 2-8.
“It’s normal to notice what makes us different
Because what makes us different is
What makes each of us so special.”
– Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Poet
Other Things to Watch during Black History Month
Fun Facts about Dr. Mae C. Jemison by Educational Videos for Students
Ruby Bridges Biography by Homeschool Pop
The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kid President
Expand Horizons with these Books About Black History
Reading books with diverse characters and stories can not only help build empathy in children, but expose them to ideas that may differ from their own. According to DiverseBooks.org, “It’s important that marginalized children aren’t the only ones reading and being exposed to diverse books, nor are their lives the only ones that will be enriched by reading them. Reading books that represent different abilities, cultures, beliefs, and skin colors help us change our attitude toward those differences.”
We’ve rounded up 10 books that explore the lives of fictional and real Black Americans and share their stories of overcoming the barriers.
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, AL by Hester Bass
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by PhD Pellum, Kimberly Brown
Celebrate Black History at these Local Events
Burritt on the Mountain Black History Celebration
Families will enjoy hands-on activities in the replica 1918 Rosenwald Schoolhouse and learn about Dr. Gladys West, one of the first female scientists to work for the US Navel Weapons Laboratory, through fun and interactive geocaching activities. There will also be a quilt artist discussion and presentation about the history of Black education in our area, both in Rosenwald schools and higher education.
Schedule of Events
10:30 – Learn about Gladys West, GPS technology history, and find a geocache learning to use a GPS unit
11:30 – From Photos to Quilts Discussion with Artist Tiavalya Befecadu
1:00 – “A Place Called Oakwood: A historical look at a small university campus in Huntsville” by Raymond King the Director of Student Activities at Oakwood University for over 13 years. He isn’t a native of Huntsville but considers himself a Huntsvillian. He enjoys exploring everything the Huntsville has to offer, including volunteering at Burritt on the Mountain.
2:00 – Rosenwald School activities and history
3:00 – Learn about Gladys West, GPS technology history, and find a geocache learning to use a GPS unit
Hidden Figures No Longer: Six Black Women Who Made History
Six Black women broke the color line in 1920 and exercised their right to vote. At this presentation by Historic Huntsville Foundation, guests can learn more about these women, the community that supported them, and how their activism foreshadowed Huntsville’s Civil Rights Movement. This event is perfect for older kids with longer attention spans.
From History to Hip Hop featuring Jonathan Blanchard
Athens State is proud to host the Black History Month Event “From History to Hip Hop,” featuring Jonathan Blanchard. Please join us as soul singer Jonathan Blanchard leads an interactive concert and storytelling experience called “History to Hip Hop” that chronicles the evolution of African American Music, from the work song to hip hop.
Drive through history with a Huntsville Civil Rights Tour
Rocket City Civil Rights has put together a driving tour that highlights some of the major sites for the Civil Rights movement in Huntsville. The self-guided tour takes your through over 15 sites with historical background and information about each location. The tour includes Huntsville’s segregated movie theaters, sit-in locations and more. Each site has a brief description with additional information.
Engage in Black Identity at the Huntsville Museum of Art
Each year the Huntsville Museum of Art hosts an exhibition as part of Black History Month. In Encounters: Dean Mitchell, the artist explores Black Identity through the use of subjects from African American culture. The artist states: “Artists are observers of life, and it is natural that I would first gravitate to the space which I occupy. The neighborhoods I was raised in were segregated. Most of my teachers were Black. Churches I attended were Black, so it is natural for me as an artist to create works that reflect my own personal experience.”
In addition to seeing the exhibit, families with older children/teens can join the artist for a virtual studio tour on February 11. The exhibit runs through March 20 and is included with a membership or general admission.
Learn about notable Black Huntsvillians
The Huntsville Madison County Public Library has an amazing digital archive collection, and they’re putting together some wonderful Hometown History videos on their YouTube channel. Here are the stories of eight educators that led notable careers in Huntsville and Madison County.
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Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.