Top 12 Reads for Black History Month

The Summer of 2020 marked a flashpoint in the United States when it came to racial justice and policing reform and now as we close out Black History Month, we need to continue to reflect on the history of racism in America and its deep roots across a wide spectrum of our institutions. 

This month, the main focus of our reading list is Black History Month and the American education system. From the research that shows how our education system has continually erased Black history from curriculum, to the educators working hard to combat that erasure and ensure Black history is included in their curriculums not just in February, but every day as an inextricable part of American history. 

  1. Black History is American History: Meet the Educators. Without accurate and expansive Black History lessons in our classrooms, students fail to understand the systemic racism in our society from its indoctrination point. Basically, it’s a one-sided, and mostly white-washed, lesson. Similar to the heroes fighting for Black equality in voting and laws, people have been working for years to make our education system more inclusive and equitable. Here are just a few…
    By Kamini Ramdeen, Julie Shain, Niven McCall-Mazza, TheSkimm
  2. This is America: Teach Black history from Black perspectives. LaGarrett J. King, founding director of the CARTER Center for K-12 Black History Education, said some educators are able to use Black History Month to “disrupt the official narrative,” but many “teach Black history from a white-centered perspective…We should teach Black history from Black perspectives,” he said. “We teach about Black history but we don’t teach through Black history.”By N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY
  3. Afua Hirsch On The Crucial Black History Lessons All Schools Should Be Teaching. There is still so little taught in schools across the world about the history of black people. Here, writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch details just a few of the gaps in our educational system and points out that the slave trade is, in fact, ‘white’ history.
    By Afua Hirsch, Vogue 
  4. Don’t Teach Black History Without Joy. The Black experience is not one-dimensional. Why do we teach it that way? Black joy and Black love are central themes for understanding Black history. Simply put, without a focus on Black joy, Black history is incomplete. When we teach oppression and struggle without also teaching the joy of resistance, for instance, we miss the mark.
    By Jania Hoover, EducationWeek
  5. Teaching Black History: What’s Gone Right, What Work Still Needs To Be Done. The divide over how to teach American history — and specifically Black history — is growing wider. Lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa and Mississippi recently filed legislation to ban teaching from the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which frames American history through the legacy of slavery. And in Utah, a charter school was met with an outcry when it allowed parents to opt-out of the curriculum for Black History Month this February.
    By Callum Borchers and Samantha Raphelson, WBUR/NPR 
  6. The US still does a wretched job of teaching Black history. An expert in African American history education explains how to fix it. The US doesn’t have federal requirements for teaching Black history in school curriculums, and only a handful of states have mandated it. LaGarrett King, an African American History education expert and director of the Carter Center for K-12 Black History Education at the University of Missouri, told Insider about a few different ways educators can work to fix that.
    By Natalie Colarossi, Insider
  7. Examining the erasure of Black history in education. History has the potential to be an incredibly empowering tool in education, especially for Black students, however, we are failing. This country has been deprived of accurate history for so long that, as a result, there are few people who are equipped with the knowledge to teach courses on Black history.
    By Yassie Buchanan, The Daily Iowan
  8. It’s Time To Teach Black History To All Students. For too long, Black History has been an afterthought in mainstream education, granted only a glimmer of sunlight during February, Black History Month. That is because white America collectively is comfortable only with the fraction of history where it can claim some level of partnership, such as the nonviolent, multiracial struggle for civil rights.
    By E. Macey Russell and David Cavell, GBH/NPR
  9. Black History Instruction Gets New Emphasis in Many States. After a summer of demonstrations against racism, states, school boards, school systems and teachers across the country are grappling with how to ramp up Black history lessons. Black history instruction tends to focus on three areas — enslavement, the Civil War and the civil rights movement — and often is shoehorned into Black History Month in February, the shortest month of the year. Now some states, schools and teachers are moving to infuse the Black experience into the broader social studies curriculum.
    By Marsha Mercer, PEW Research
  10. Amid a racial reckoning, teachers are reconsidering how history is taught. Educators from around the country have been reflecting on what they teach and how they teach it in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the national protests that followed. “There’s a decided push for us to really begin to re-examine our own biases and how we approach things in our classroom,” one educator said.
    By Daniella Silva, NBCNews
  11. Black Lives Matter Movement goes to school to teach students about social justice. This week, the first graders in Tamar LaSure-Owens’ class have started social studies lessons the same way every day: belting out the lyrics to a Black Lives Matter song that encourages them to speak up about social injustice…Teachers across the country are sharing lessons and having frank conversations about the movement with students of all ages.
    By Melanie Burney, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  12. Local Writer Makes Black History Month Accessible to All. Autumn Arnett knows there are stories to be told. Arnett, an education equity advocate and writer (including in the Chronicle), worked to put together her own curriculum guide with 28 different historical Black figures and movements, one for each day, and provide it for free to parents, teachers, and schools who might want to use it.
    By Clara Ence Morse, The Austin Chronicle