Celebrate & Learn About Black History All Month Long!

Mountain Lake PBS is proud to celebrate Black History this February and all year round!

February is Black History Month, a time to honor the important role African Americans play in the story of our country. Originating as a week long celebration in 1926, and organized by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans of the time, Black History Month was nationally recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976.

Today we continue this tradition with celebrations, lectures, performances, documentaries, and more, to expand our understanding of the pivotal role in shaping U.S. history and culture played by Americans of African descent.

Continue below to celebrate and learn about Black culture and history, and engage in timely and important conversations about race in America, with PBS Parents articles and PBS LearningMedia resources for all ages, and a full lineup of programs in our weekday Learn at Home block.

For young learners, join Peg + Cat and Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum on PBS Kids 24/7 on Tuesday, February 2nd to learn about influential Black leaders. And keep playing and learning with our Learn Along Bingo.

Jump to article sections:

Learn About Black History & Culture

Teaching Your Child About Black History

Grades PreK-3
By kindergarten, most children have heard of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and learned that he was an advocate for peace and equality. Here are ways to take Black History a step further this month and year-round.

How Black Art Can Spark Conversations with Children

Grades PreK-5
Introduce your children to Black artists and artwork while learning about Black history! Here are ways you can use art to help spark conversations with your child.

13 Children’s Books With Strong Black Characters

Grades PreK-4
Help your kids celebrate Black culture today and every day! In this booklist, you’ll find a Coretta Scott King award-winning picture book, a story about a little girl with beautiful hair, a book of 40 biographies on remarkable Black women, and more.

Children’s Books to Celebrate Black Culture

Grades PreK-7
Help your children celebrate Black history, culture and experiences today and year-round with this booklist from PBS Kids for Parents. This list includes a book of poems selected by Langston Hughes as well as stories about Ruby Bridges, Bill Pickett, and more.

African American History | History Detectives

Grades: 4-12
Understanding the history of African Americans is crucial to understanding the history of America. Examine artifacts from three eras in American history — the Civil War, WWI, and the Civil Rights Movement — with PBS History Detectives virtual learning-ready lesson plans.

New York Times Runs Unpublished Photo Series for Black History Month | PBS NewsHour

Grades 6-12
See some of the long-forgotten images of African-Americans from the New York Times archive with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour.

National Museum of African American History and Culture | Craft in America: Democracy

Grades 8-12
In this video from Craft in America, we meet curator Joanne Hyppolite, Ph.D., of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, who talks about a patchwork-lettered quilt, one of many museum objects that help to educate citizens about the history of African Americans and the past and present racism in the United States. Support materials include a breakdown of essential questions, key concepts, an overview of content, suggested activities, related vocabulary, discussion questions and worksheets for viewing the film, studio investigations, and reflection about and displaying completed artworks.

Black Leaders & Visionaries

Zora Neale Hurston | Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum

Grades 1-2
Learn about Zora Neale Hurston, widely regarded as the most important pre-World War II African American woman writer and author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, with this video clip, printable biosketch reader, and support materials.

Jackie Robinson | Athlete and Activist

Grades 3-7
Jackie Robinson was a sports hero who became a civil rights activist
. When Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he became the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era. Demonstrating skill as a professional baseball player and consistent dignity both on and off the field, Robinson became an advocate for civil rights, as well as a role model.

Sojourner Truth | Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist

Grades 3-7
An abolitionist and feminist during the nineteenth century, Sojourner Truth demanded not less discrimination, but no discrimination. Truth escaped enslavement and, despite being unable to read or write, rose to be a leader in the fight for equality and fair treatment for both women and African Americans. Learn about the remarkable career of this persevering woman who lived up to her self-chosen name.

The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. | Civil Rights Movement

Grades 5-10
Historians reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his role in the Civil Rights Movement. King’s deep-seated commitment to nonviolence contributed to the expansion of social justice in the United States, particularly for African Americans.

The Exotic Right in Front of You | Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace

Grades 6-12
Follow each step of Kehinde Wiley’s process from casting models on the streets, to creating finished images. In this video, Kehinde introduces the idea that foreign images are not always from far away countries, but can be very close to home. In Kehinde’s work he does not reject or affirm societal portrayals of black people, but investigates these images as if they were foreign and asks viewers to do the same. 

Shirley Chisholm | 16 for ’16 – The Contenders

Grades 6-12
Celebrate Black History Month by introducing students to Shirley Chisholm, the first female Black candidate for president. Virtual learning-friendly resources highlight Chisholm’s life, historic campaign, and the times in which she lived.

Exploring Racial Barriers at NASA | Moonwalk

Grades 6-12
Decades after the enrollment of NASA’s first black astronauts, people of color are still a minority in aerospace. Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr., the first African American to perform a spacewalk, discusses challenging stereotypes with a young woman who dreams of planning a mission to Mars. This video is part of the series Moonwalk. The project brings people together for engaging conversations about the Apollo missions and their journeys in space exploration.

Lesson of the Day: Amanda Gorman and ‘The Hill We Climb’

Grades 9-12
In this lesson from The New York Times, high school students learn about the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, Amanda Gorman, and consider her work as part of a tradition of occasional poetry. For younger children in grades PreK-3, watch Amanda recite her original poem Talking Gets Us There from the PBS Kids Talk About: Race and Racism special.

Allyship & Social Justice Resources

Resources for Race, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion

All Ages
This compilation of resources from We Need Diverse Books has book recommendations, organizations, and black-owned bookstores to help you learn about race, equity, anti-racism, and inclusion while also supporting people of color.

8 Tips for Choosing “Good” Picture Books Featuring Diverse, BIPOC Characters

Grades PreK-5
This article from embracerace.org contains advice for choosing, and evaluating the quality of, picture books featuring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) characters.

Common Sense Media: How White Parents Can Use Media to Raise Anti-Racist Kids

Grades 1-12
Media makes a big impression on kids. The messages you send — from the media you choose, to the conversations you initiate — are what kids will hold in their hearts and minds. Here are 10 ideas for how to use media to start and continue conversations about race and racism with your kids.

Confronting Anti-Black Racism Collection

Grades 6-12
Use these materials with middle and high school students to help them understand the long history of anti-Black racism in the United States, and think about ways to address it in their own families and communities. Resources include news coverage of recent protests, videos on the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police brutality within the past decade, iconic PBS documentaries on the histories of race and racism in America, and activities addressing civic engagement and elevating students’ voices.

Who, Me? Biased?: Understanding Implicit Bias

Grades 9-12
In this interactive lesson, students explore the extent to which society (and they themselves) may discriminate based on factors they’re not even aware of, implicit biases. In this lesson you’ll learn what implicit bias is, how it influences your own thinking, and how its impact can be minimized.

Learning at Home Programs

During Black History Month, check out the Mountain Lake PBS Learning at Home block, all February long! Join us as we celebrate, honor, and learn about Black history, culture, and the important contributions made by African American’s.

Monday, February 1

1 PM: NOVA: Forgotten Genius

The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy Julian met with every possible barrier in a deeply segregated America. He was a man of genius, devotion, and determination. As a black man he was also an outsider, fighting to make a place for himself in a profession and country divided by bigotry—a man who would eventually find freedom in the laboratory. By the time of his death, Julian had risen to the highest levels of scientific and personal achievement, overcoming countless obstacles to become a world-class scientist, a self-made millionaire, and a civil-rights pioneer.

Wednesday, February 3

2 PM: American Experience: Road to Memphis

Discover the wildly disparate yet fatefully entwined stories of an assassin, James Earl Ray, and his target, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., against the backdrop of the seething and turbulent forces in American society that led these two men to their violent and tragic collision in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.

Wednesday, February 10

1 PM: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War ⎪ Part 1 – Hours 1 & 2

The aftermath of the Civil War was bewildering, exhilarating and terrifying. African Americans had played a crucial role in saving the Union and now, as the country grappled with the terms and implications of Reconstruction, they struggled to breathe life into their hard-won freedom. The result was a second American Revolution. Post-Civil War America was a new world. For African Americans living in the former Confederacy, Reconstruction was what historian W. E. B. Du Bois once described as their “brief moment in the sun.” But support for the social, economic, and political gains they achieved didn’t last long. A controversial presidential election in 1876 deals Reconstruction a grievous blow.

Thursday, February 11

1 PM: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War ⎪ Part 2 – Hours 3 & 4

Hour three of the series examines the years 1877-1896, a transitional period that saw visions of a “New South” set the stage for the rise of Jim Crow and the undermining of Reconstruction’s legal and political legacy. While some African Americans attempted to migrate, the vast majority remained in the South, where sharecropping, convict leasing, disfranchisement, and lynchings drew a “color line”. In hour four, learn how the turn of the century is known as the ‘nadir’ of race relations, when white supremacy was ascendant and African Americans faced both physical and psychological oppression. Racist imagery saturated popular culture and Southern propaganda manipulated the story of the Civil War and Reconstruction. But African Americans found ways to fight back, using artistic expression to put forward a “New Negro”

Friday, February 12

1:30 PM: Poetry in America: Harlem

“What happens to a dream deferred?” Langston Hughes’s question calls President Bill Clinton, pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, poet Sonia Sanchez, and students from the Harlem Children’s Zone to interpret Hughes’s most iconic poem, “Harlem.” Together with host Elisa New, the President and other guests, explore the poem’s rhythms and rhymes, interpret its images, and discuss its enduring call for justice.  

Wednesday, February 17

1 PM: American Masters | Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou led a prolific life. As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.

Thursday, February 18

1 PM: American Experience: Voice of Freedom

On Easter Sunday, 1939, contralto Marian Anderson stepped up to a microphone in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Inscribed on the walls of the monument behind her were the words “all men are created equal.” Barred from performing in Constitution Hall because of her race, Anderson would sing for the American people in the open air. Hailed as a voice that “comes around once in a hundred years” by maestros in Europe and widely celebrated by both white and black audiences at home, her fame hadn’t been enough to spare her from the indignities and outright violence of racism and segregation. Voice of Freedom interweaves Anderson’s rich life story with this landmark moment in history, exploring fundamental questions about talent, race, fame, democracy, and the American soul.

Thursday, February 25

1 PM: George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Life

While George Washington Carver’s rise from slavery to scientific accomplishment has inspired millions, time has reduced him to the man who did something with peanuts. This documentary uncovers Carver’s complexities and reveals the full impact of his life and work.

2 PM: Talking Black in America

Talking Black in America follows the unique circumstances of the descendants of American slaves and their incredible impact on American life and language. Speech varieties from the African American community reflect the imprint of African language systems, the influences of regional British and Southern American dialects, and the creativity and resilience of people living through oppression, segregation and the fight for equality. Filmed across the United States, Talking Black in America is a startling revelation of language as legacy, identity and triumph over adversity.

Friday, February 26

2 PM: Kindred Spirits: Artists Hilda Wilkinson Brown and Lilian Thomas Burwell

Kindred Spirits explores the unique relationship between an African American aunt and niece who became accomplished artists and educators despite the hardships of the Great Depression and the inequities of racial segregation. The story of their lives, their works of art and sources of inspiration are presented against the backdrop of a segregated society.

2:30 PM: Spotlight Special: Fulton Fryar’s Closet

Spotlight Special: Fulton Fryar’s Closet tells a relatively unknown story of racial inequality in 1950’s Adirondack culture, and how memories of it resurfaced recently when a building at Seagle Music Colony faced demolition. The building housed a young singer named Fulton Fryar, the first African American singer to study at the colony, and whose sleeping quarters in 1957 were kept separate from those of the other singers on the campus. Learn what role architectural experts, museum curators and concerned citizens are playing to make sure Fryar’s story will be remembered.

Learn Along Bingo

With Learn Along Bingo, children can view, explore, and play as they learn alongside their PBS Kids friends on the PBS Kids 24/7 channel. We hope your family will use it to inspire learning each and every day.

This week, celebrate and learn about Black leaders like Misty Copeland, Maya Angelou, and Frederick Douglass! Identifying specific contributions of people, past and present is important. We learn to celebrate individuals and the part they play in our lives.

Grades PreK-K

Tune in: Watch Peg + Cat at 7 AM on Tuesday, February 2nd.

Play & Learn: In this packet, there are printable activities and everyday learning ideas for you and your child to choose from. As you complete each square, mark it off to celebrate the learning!

Grades 1-2

Tune in: Watch Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum at 7 PM on Tuesday, February 2nd.

Play & Learn: In this packet, there are printable activities and everyday learning ideas for you and your child to choose from. As you complete each square, mark it off to celebrate the learning!

For even more games and educational resources for young learners, go to the Celebrating Black Leaders Collection on PBS Kids for Parents.