February is a time for us to consider a topic we should be thinking about all year, which is Black history. Our lessons cover major Black figures who altered the course of American history, and also include primers on the culture and history of Egypt, Nigeria, and other countries in Africa.
Slavery and the Civil War
Slavery is a defining issue in American Black history. A ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. While this is often cited as the first slave ship to arrive in North America, the first enslaved Africans were likely taken to the continent at least 100 years earlier.
There are also people who worked to abolish slavery, one of the most famous examples being the Underground Railroad, a connected group of routes, homes, and people who worked to help escaped slaves travel to where they could be free.
The history of slavery in America is inevitably tied into the American Civil War. Although there were multiple causes of Southern secession and the Civil War, there is no denying that the issue of slavery was at the heart of the conflict, and Black History Month is a time for us to acknowledge that.
The Civil Rights Movement
The fight for equal civil rights for Black Americans is an ongoing struggle that extends at least as far back to the establishment of Jim Crow laws back in the 1870’s. One of the most basic civil rights of a democracy is the right to vote; the voting rights of Black Americans were suppressed in various ways for many years.
The era most commonly associated with the civil rights movement is the 1950’s and ‘60s, when Martin Luther King Jr. became such a visible figure in America. In 1960, Ruby Bridges made history by becoming the first Black student to attend an all-White elementary school.
African Geography & History
Our lessons attempt to look at African countries and civilizations one by one. One looks at the culture of Nigeria, which has nearly twice as many people in it as any other country in Africa. A similar lesson looks at the culture of Egypt.
Egypt in particular is one of the most ancient and accomplished civilizations in world history. We have a series of lessons that looks closer at Ancient Egypt, including the different kingdoms, customs and other rituals of the country. We also offer lessons on the Ghana Empire and the Mali Empire to get a broader sense of the civilizations which have emerged on the African continent throughout history.
Considering Black History
Black History Month is a time to reflect on the struggle that Black people have faced and a time to celebrate their achievements and contributions to America in all fields. Our job is to understand and acknowledge this history while teaching students about acceptance and celebrating the natural differences between us.