40 Black History Month Activities for February and Beyond

Celebrate and inspire with these Black history lesson ideas.

Examples of Black History Month activities including creating a history museum and discovering archaeological monuments
We Are Teachers; Irving Elementary School; National Geographic/Henrietta Marie

We know that Black history is American history and needs to be embedded into your classroom experiences year-round. At the same time, Black History Month provides the necessary opportunity to dig deeper with students. Every February, we can support students as they learn more, discover cultural impacts, and follow social movements from the past to the present day. These Black History Month lessons and activities cannot be isolated or one-off classroom experiences. Think of how you can connect these topics to what you’re already doing and make it authentic. And most important, do not just focus on oppression: Focus on the joy too!

Since 1928, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History has provided a theme for Black History Month. In 2024, the theme is African Americans and the Arts.

1. Learn the basics about Black History Month

Watch an introductory video about Black History Month. Then ask students to write their questions about Black history and use those to curate your resources and lessons for the month.

2. Re-create civil rights freedom posters

Recreate Civil Rights Posters for black history month
Civil Rights Movement Veterans/Poster via crmvet.org

The Civil Rights Movement Veterans site offers powerful examples of freedom movement posters, as does the Civil Rights Digital Library. Review them with your students, and then have them get into groups and create their own to share.

3. Explore Black history through primary sources from the National Archives

people playing basketball black history month
National Archives/Basketball players via archives.gov

Primary sources are great discussion starters to talk about Black experiences. Choose from thousands of resources, including this 1970s photo series of Chicago.

4. Learn about famous Black artists

5 African-American Artists Who Inspire My Students' Creativity
Smithsonian/Black artists via americanart.si.edu

Future Jacob Lawrences and Elizabeth Catletts will appreciate learning more about artists and expanding their own talents. Plus, check out these other Black artists.

5. Watch a Black History Month video

Get more specific information or do a deep dive into an area of Black history with a video about civil rights, slavery, accomplished Black Americans, and more.

Check out this list of Black history videos for students in every grade level.

Collage of video stills from videos for Black History Month
We Are Teachers/Black history videos via weareteachers.com

6. Learn about Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter group protesting
Black Lives Matter/Protest via blacklivesmatter.com

The Black Lives Matter site explains the group’s history while books like Dear Martin and The Hate U Give explore the movement from a fictional perspective.

7. Learn about the inventor of the traffic light

Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light and patented the three-position traffic signal. Teach students about his achievements as an example of how Black Americans impact our everyday experiences. Watch a video about Morgan and talk about what inspired his invention and how being an African American impacted him as an inventor.

Buy it: Garrett Morgan Activity Pack at Amazon

8. Create a newsletter or magazine with content from Black authors

Have your students generate their own newsletter or literacy magazine to distribute to parents. Include poems and short stories by Black authors, as well as student-generated writings and images that center on Black History Month.

9. Read a Black History Month poem

34 Powerful Black History Month Poems for Kids of All Ages

To enhance our conversations this month, we’ve put together this list of powerful Black History Month poems for kids of all ages.

10. Listen to young poet Amanda Gorman

cover of Change Sings

Amanda Gorman is another accomplished Black American and a great introduction to Black poetry. Watch the poem she read at Barack Obama’s inauguration, read her book Change Sings, and learn about her at Poets.org.

Buy it: Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem at Amazon

11. Turn your classroom (or school!) into a history museum

student being simone biles for a school project for black history month
Irving Elementary School/Student project via op97.org

Have your students choose a notable Black pioneer they’d like to know more about, such as voting rights and women’s rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, dancer Alvin Ailey, or Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest full-time national parks ranger. Then, host a living museum right in your classroom.

12. Decorate your classroom door for Black History Month

Turn your classroom door into an educational experience. Check out how these teachers decorated their classroom doors in amazing ways to showcase Black History Month, and review this video with ideas.

13. Read books with Black characters in honor of Marley Dias

Marley Dias lying atop books with Black female characters
GrassROOTS Community Foundation/Marly Dias via grassrootscommunityfoundation.org

Dias is a young activist who started the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign as a sixth grader. She has compiled an excellent guide to books with Black girl characters. Check out WeAreTeachers’ list of books with Black protagonists as well.

14. Learn the story of the Henrietta Marie

henrietta marie underwater memorial for black history month activity
National Geographic/Henrietta Marie via nationalgeographic.org

The Henrietta Marie was a slave ship that sunk off the coast of Florida. Learn about the ship, its journey, and the underwater memorial that honors African slaves. Get more information about the Henrietta Marie at National Geographic.

15. Experience the I Have a Dream speech from multiple perspectives

a place to land cover

Read A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein. Then, watch the I Have a Dream Speech online, and explore resources about the speech at National Geographic. Engage students in discussing why this speech is so important in American history and why it continues to resonate today.

Buy it: A Place to Land at Amazon

16. Meet Oprah

Oprah Winfrey is a name every student knows, learn more about this influential Black American in this interview:

17. Read Black History Month books

Example of Black History Month books, including Young, Gifted and Black and The Undefeated.
We Are Teachers

If you’re looking for more reading activities, these picture books help celebrate Black History Month and educate your students on how these influential Black people helped shape history.

18. Learn the art of stepping

Black Women stepping
Step Afrika!/Stepping via stepafrika.org

Stepping is a form of dancing in which the body itself is used to create unique rhythms and sounds. The website Step Afrika! has videos and information about the history of stepping.

19. Take a virtual field trip to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Black and white photo from the Emmett Till Project
Emmett Till Foundation/Digital Collection via emmetttillproject.com

The digital collections of the Schomburg Center, located in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, feature some amazing online exhibits, interviews, and podcasts.

20. Virtually visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Photo of Black women from the Smithsonian collection
Smithsonian/NMAAHC collection via nmaahc.si.org

You can browse the collection online by topic, date, or place.

21. Host a poetry reading featuring works by Black poets

Have students choose a poem by a Black poet to learn and recite for the class. Choose a student to serve as the emcee, write up a program, and set the tone with dimmed lights and jazz music played between performances. The Poetry Foundation has excellent resources that can help get you started.

Here’s inspiration with Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise:

22. Check out online Black history exhibits

Online classroom exhibits for Black History Month
Smithsonian/Black history via smithsonianmag.com

Educating yourself and your students with these shows is one more way to understand Black history and the current moment.

23. Dive into Georgia Stories: Black History Collection on PBS

As a state, Georgia played a huge role in the 2020 presidential election, and its Black history dates back to the earliest days of slavery in the colony.

24. Discuss implicit bias, systemic racism, and social justice

Classroom lessons on Race, Racism, and Police Violence
Learning for Justice/Resource via learningforJustice.org

Start a much-needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism with these resources that can empower students to fight for justice in our society.

25. Read and discuss Freedom in Congo Square

Freedom in Congo Square book for Black History lessons

The award-winning picture book Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford and R. Gregory Christie is a nonfiction children’s book that describes the tyranny of slavery to help young readers understand how jubilant Sundays were for slaves.

Buy it: Freedom in Congo Square at Amazon

26. Watch Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History

Netflix website screenshot for Kevin Hart's Guide to Black History
Netflix/Kevin Hart via Netflix

Kevin Hart highlights the fascinating contributions of Black history’s unsung heroes in this entertaining—and educational—comedy special.

27. Recognize Black visionaries

African American Visionaries classroom poster
Education.com/African American visionaries poster via education.com

This great poster featuring activists, artists, authors, and revolutionaries will highlight Black changemakers in your classroom. Use companion activities to deepen understanding by researching several of the visionaries and asking students to write a story or create their own poster about what they’ve learned.

28. Review a timeline of Black history

Black History month timeline
History.com/Black history facts via history.com

Why is Black History Month in February? How long ago was it founded, and who started it? Find the answers to these questions and learn more with this timeline.

29. Explore the music of Black artists

The history of African American music lesson plans for classroom
Edsitement/music via edsitement.gov

This lesson traces the long history of how Black artists have used music as a vehicle for communicating beliefs, aspirations, observations, joy, despair, resistance, and more across U.S. history.

30. Sample Black-founded snack brands

Examples of a variety of black-founded snack foods
Caroo/snacks via caroo.com

Honor Black History Month with delicious snacks from Black-founded brands delivered to your classroom—5% of proceeds are donated to the Equal Justice Initiative and one meal is donated to Feeding America for every box delivered.

31. Understand the role of Black women in NASA’s history

hidden figures movie poster

How much do your students know about Black contributions to space exploration? Rent the film Hidden Figures and watch with your students to remember, honor, and share the incredible accomplishments of three Black women working on NASA’s space flight program. Before watching the movie, research the liberties the film took in telling the story and discuss with your students the function of the choices. Did the filmmakers make the right choices?

Watch it: Hidden Figures at Amazon

32. Support local Black-owned businesses

Research your city’s Black-owned businesses and see if you can purchase a sample of their products, invite some of the entrepreneurs to speak to your class, or book a field trip!

33. Stream Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices on Netflix

illustrations of a diverse range of family structures and their kids with the title Bookmarks written across the front.

“Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices is a live-action collection of 12 five-minute episodes featuring prominent Black celebrities and artists reading children’s books from Black authors that highlight the Black experience.”

34. Celebrate the “Black Lives Matter at School” movement

black lives matter at school banner
National Education Association/Black Lives Matter at School via nea.org

“Black Lives Matter at School” is a national coalition organized for racial justice in education. It encourages all educators, students, parents, unions, and community organizations to join an annual week of action during the first week of February each year.​ For a variety of Black History Month activities, visit their website to learn more about their campaign.

35. Watch a historic moment

barack and michelle obama at the inauguration
National Geographic/Inauguration via nationalgeographic.org

When Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, it was a monumental day for Black History. Watch his inauguration and discuss what this meant for American history.

36. Analyze Hair Love

You can approach the book Hair Love by Matthew Cherry in a few ways. Talk about the importance of representation in picture books and media, have students share their connections with the story, or analyze the book as a story about modern Black families.

Buy it: Hair Love at Amazon

37. Study the Underground Railroad

before she was harriet cover

Examine the Underground Railroad using various sources, like the picture book biography Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome. National Geographic has a collection of resources about the Underground Railroad. And you can take a virtual tour of the Harriet Tubman museum.

Buy it: Before She Was Harriet at Amazon

38. Research Juneteenth

African americans during a juneteenth celebration for black history month activities
National Geographic/Juneteenth via nationalgeographic.org

Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the freedom of enslaved people. Learn about Juneteenth, how it came about, and what it means to Black Americans with these National Geographic resources.

39. Listen to musician Rhiannon Giddens

As she was trying to understand and make sense of violence against Black Americans in 2020, folk musician Rhiannon Giddens wrote and released the song “Build a House.” The song came out on the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. The song, which was made into a picture book, captures 400 years of Black history in a lyrical and thoughtful way. Use Giddens’ book either to introduce or wrap up a month on Black history.

Read an essay about the song, and watch the video.

Buy it: Build a House at Amazon

40. Study the pivotal court case Loving v. Virginia

Mildred and Richard Loving from the Loving v Virginia case
Britannica/Loving v. Virginia via britannica.com

Loving v. Virginia, decided in 1967, made marriage between people of different races legal. Learn about the Loving decision and why it’s important at National Geographic.

Plus, get inspiration from these Black History Month bulletin boards for your classroom.

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to our newsletters to find out when they’re posted!

Celebrate the art, poetry, music, inventions, and contributions of Black Americans with these Black History Month activities.