Black History Month
In Fulton County Schools, our goal is to prepare all students to graduate ready to engage in the diverse world in which they live. This world – and our students – are diverse, which is why Fulton County Schools is proud that our schools and classrooms are places where students’ language, culture, race, ethnicity, and unique abilities are viewed as assets rather than deficits. The month of February offers opportunities to reinforce our respect for diversity across the district and in our schools, including the celebration of Black History Month.
As a Humanities Department, we reviewed several resources for schools to consider when planning experiences for students to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans to American history.
Georgia Standards of Excellence:
Educators throughout the district provide instruction on different cultures, including the African-American experience. Teachers use the Georgia Standards of Excellence for Social Studies as the curriculum guide for providing instruction on historical figures and cultural contributions of African-Americans.
In elementary schools, students are exposed to a variety of notable African-American figures and their contributions to society. The Georgia Standards of Excellence include multiple standards across the elementary curriculum that highlight African-Americans. Please see the chart below for some examples.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day
Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Freedman’s Bureau)
Black Cowboys of Texas
George Washington Carver
*This is not a comprehensive list.
In elementary schools, teachers are encouraged to offer reading options for students on the African-American experience. Some books recommended by the Humanities Department are:
- Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
- Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport
- The Bat Boy and His Violin by Gavin Curtis
- March (series) by John Lewis
- Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) indicates grades 6 and 7 are two-year World Area Studies courses, and grade 8 is an in-depth study on Georgia Studies. Throughout the 8th grade Georgia Studies course, students learn about well-known pioneers for civil rights, women’s rights, and political movements who are African-American. These notable figures include Alonzo Herndon, Homer Plessy, and John Lewis.
In grades 6, 7 and 8, students are exposed to a variety of genres in ELA that contribute to their study of African-Americans. Teachers are encouraged to offer a variety of reading options (see chart below).
Young Adult Novels capturing the African-American Experience
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
- Dear Martin by Nic Stone
- Monster by Walter Dean Myers
- American Street by Ibi Zoboi
- The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake
- Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson
- Up from Slavery: An Autobiography by Booker T. Washington
- 100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History by Chrisanne Beckner
- Make it Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life by Marcus Samuelsson
- Book of Firsts: Sports Heroes by Richard Rennert
Teachers intentionally acknowledge African-Americans where appropriate throughout the U.S. History and World History courses based on the Georgia Standards of Excellence. Elective courses in Social Studies provide additional opportunities for the inclusion of notable African-American contributions. Some high schools offer clubs and organizations that support student voice and experience with race, class, and gender; for example, the following clubs are offered in high schools: Black Student Union, International Club, and Shades of Black.
Although Black History Month is not a dedicated unit within the curriculum for any grade level, we recognize the numerous places within the curriculum where teachers can and should incorporate black history year-round. For ideas, resources, strategies, and supplemental materials, we encourage teachers to review the following sites.
At the district’s Teaching Museums, students can experience reenactments of historical figures and folk heroes. Please see a small sampling of the programs below.
Students are invited to experience a one-person play titled Marshalling Justice about the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, and an interactive experience titled A World of Change that includes information on the Tuskegee Airmen.
Eighth grade students are invited to learn The Adventures of High John the Conqueror, a folk hero from African-American folklore who was the son of an African king in the Congo sold into American slavery.
There are numerous institutions in the metro-Atlanta area that offer special events and exhibits that observe Black History Month. Additionally, many organizations offer unique experiences for students and their families.
Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History – As a part of the Fulton County Library System, the Auburn Research Library on African American Culture and History is the first public library in the Southeast to offer archival collections dedicated to African American culture.
Atlanta University Center Consortium – Four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) comprise the Atlanta University Center. The HBCUs include: Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and the Morehouse School of Medicine.
National African American Read-in – The National Council of Teachers of English offers the National African America Read-in, the nation’s first and oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature.
National Center for
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights – In downtown Atlanta, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights offers an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to the struggle for Global Human Rights.
Please contact your school for activities, celebrations, and programs scheduled for the month of February.