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Black History Resources

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national holiday in January each year, and February is Black History Month.
We have gathered resources for Martin Luther King, Jr on the MLK Resources Page as well.
Just a few suggestions for your Black History studies in your classroom. Hope they're useful!


Search Suggestions

black history, African American, civil rights, civil rights

Historical Figures

A few key figures that might be useful in student research. Some suggestions:

  • Marion Anderson
  • Benjamin Banneker
  • Ruby Bridges
  • George Washington Carver
  • Bessie Coleman
  • Frederick Douglas
  • Langston Hughes
  • Barbara Jordan
  • Coretta Scott King
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • E.D. Nixon
  • Barack Obama
  • Satchel Paige
  • Rosa Parks
  • Colin Powell
  • Condoleeza Rice
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Wilma Rudolph
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Harriet Tubmann
  • C.J. Walker

Multimedia Resources

Plano, TX Students: Voices from Black History 2008
Click on the arrow to enjoy this multimedia project for Black History Month created by elementary students in Plano! (Voices from Black History 2008)
I thought it was quite effective & very moving--a fantastic example of the use of video w/ students.

American Slave Narratives

This site, maintained by the University of Virginia, has numerous first-person accounts of American slave life. Many of the articles contain primary source recordings of the former slaves themselves, as they recall their stories. This is a stunning example of historical digital storytelling, a primary source collected originally through the WPA in the 1930s. Well worth exploring with older students! As these narratives were transposed directly from the speech of former slaves, there are words used that are inappropriate by today's standards, but, this being a primary source, they are authentically present in this narrative.

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology


has dozens of engaging multimedia presentations about various topics, including US History. Suggested here is the presentation about Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War. Be sure to preview all presentations before using them with your students, as this site is designed for secondary school students. Many of the presentations could be appropriately used with our younger students though. For example, the following presentation discusses changes in the lives of former slaves, including suffrage & education. About 2/3 of the way though though, it does briefly discuss violence against former slaves, such as lynching.

Reconstructed South

**Marian Anderson Sings!**

In 1939 when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused Marian Anderson permission to perform in their hall, Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for this plein air performance. With the Great Emancipator looming in the background, this performance lends a new weight to the meaning of the song.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Check out this short biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. with audio support for the text. This was created by Florida elementary school students, and is a good, age-appropriate overview of his life for our elementary students. See other resources below as well.

Rosa Parks

This BrainPop Jr video is free, and explains Rosa Parks' civil disobedience w/i the context of the early civil rights era.
January 2012: Unfortunately this video is no longer free. :(
I'm leaving it on our list of resources in case it comes up as a free video in the future.

Tuskegee Airmen

At about 7-7.5 min into this CNN for Kids episode is a segment about the Tuskegee Airmen! Interesting!

Flickr Creative Commons Image: Spirit of Tuskegee by Sea Turtle

Klein Database Resource Suggestions

Encyclopedia Britannica Video

Abernathy, Ralph: M.L. King, Jr.’s assassination and influence. Video. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Web. 7 Jan.
2011. http://www.school.eb.com/elementary/art-73325.

"Civil Rights Leaders: Martin Luther King, Jr." Online . Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. 2 Feb. 2009 http://www.school.eb.com/elementary/art-84580

ABC-CLIO Resources

"A Changing Movement, 1954-1975 (Overview)." American History. 2009. ABC-CLIO. 2 Feb. 2009 <__http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com__>.
"The Dream of Equality, 1954-1975 (Overview)." American History. 2009. ABC-CLIO. 2 Feb. 2009 <__http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com__>.
"Oh, Freedom over Me! 1954-1975 (Overview)." American History__. 2009. ABC-CLIO. 2 Feb. 2009 <__http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com__>

Don't forget Discovery Online

for videos, Nettrekker for web searches, Ebscohost for magazine/newspaper articles, etc.

Web Resources

African American World

From PBS--very interesting site with a webquest-type timeline illustrating the history of black people in North America, from early days of slavery in the 1400's through to the present day. Multimedia, links to other articles/sites. Very comprehensive.

Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery

This site is based on the documents provided in a 1998 PBS special. It offers perspectives on slavery through four major eras, ranging from 1470 to 1865. For each era, historical narrative, a Resource Bank of images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries, and a Teacher's Guide are provided.

American Slave Narratives

Some of the material is not appropriate for students to read (the “n word” is used by some of the former slaves, rape described, etc.) but this site is very interesting and quite informative. Gives real taste of slaves’ differing recollections of the slave’s life. Would be great source to take excerpts from. There’s even an audio interview with a former slave.

**AT&T's Black History Past to Present Interactive Treasure Hunt**

In this webquest-type activity, students are guided to answer 13 questions using the Internet Resources linked on the site.

Benjamin Banneker: An Important American

This site is a basic information site with information about this African American inventor.

Colonial Williamsburg: The African American Experience

Did you know that in the 1800s, fully half the population of Williamsburg was black? This multimedia site celebrates the African American Experience in sight and sound. Don't miss the Colonial Williamsburg Podcast & Video cast from Feb 2, 2009 entitled African American Programs at 30.

Enchanted Learning: Black History Month

This site is full of activities for elementary school students. Some examples are Black History Monthly Calendar for the entire year, biographies of famous African Americans, quizzes, timeline of Black History, etc.

Encyclopedia Britannica's Guide to Black History

This free resource has a handy timeline of black history events, audio files and videos, articles and links to other web resources that may enrich your Black History Month curriculum!

Free Technology for Teachers: Lesson Plans About Rosa Parks

Several good links for lesson plans, a video and other multimedia resources from various high quality sites such as the National Archives. Check it out!

History Channel Black History Minisite

Tons of archival footage here, along with audio interviews, photos and articles pertaining to the civil rights movement and Black History. Check out the multimedia timeline too.

Houghton-Mifflin Education Place Monthly

Check out the Stamp of Honor activity!

King Center

This is the official site of the King Center, established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King .

Larry Ferlazzo: Best Websites for Learning About Martin Luther King

Check out this COMPREHENSIVE collection of resources for use by students & teachers in learning about MLK! Larry Ferlazzo's blog site of tips for educators is a great place to find reliable resources for instruction. What do you think?

Montgomery Bus Boycott

This site is full of video interviews & historical tapes of Montgomery civil rights leaders such as E.D. Nixon, Rosa Parks, MLK. The Bus Boycott Timeline is particularly interesting, as is the 30 minute video of the history of the movement in Montgomery. There are also jpgs of historical newspaper headlines and articles available. Be sure to preview any videos you plan to show with students. While all that I watched are historically significant and fascinating, one that I listened to did have one curse word in it (on the timeline: January 1956). This is really a rich resource--I spent a couple of hours on it watching videos the weekend I found it! A captivating archive.

Note: Here is a corresponding video on Encyclopedia Britannica
Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Protest in Montgomery." Online . Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. 2 Feb. 2009
"Culture & Change: Evolution of Black History" http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/bhistory/timeline/game.htm

NEA: Classroom Resources for MLK Day

Check out these resources to support your students' study of MLK and his significance in American History and the Civil Rights Movement.
Included are complete lesson plans, activities, printables videos, etc.

Scholastic's Evolution of Black History: Interactive Timeline

Timeline focusing on Black History from the time of Columbus' voyages in 1492.

Teachers First Martin Luther King Resources

Dozens of MLK links are here! Very rich resource from an ISTE partner site. This is worth a look!

Suggested Literature

from the Benfer Library

Some new (or new-ish) book suggestions from the Benfer Library:

Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart. In Kentucky, during the Civil War, 12-year-old slave Gabriel pursues his dream of becoming a jockey.

Away West by Patricia McKissack. In 1879, 13-year-old Everett Turner leaves a life of struggle on his family's farm runs away to St. Louis, where he works in a livery stable before heading to the all-black town of Nicodemus, Kansas.

Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack/illus by Jerry Pinkney: picture book--In segregated 1950s Nashville, a young African American girl braves a series of indignities and obstacles to get the public library.

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan: An introduction to the life of Marian Anderson, the first African American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera.

Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo/illus. by Bryan Collier: the life of Langston Hughes, celebrated in poetry and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award Winner, Bryan Collier

Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport/illus. by Bryan Collier: striking illustrations in this book focusing on the words of Martin Luther King

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson: Two girls, one white and one black, gradually get to know each other as they sit on the fence that divides their town in mid-20th century America.