Learn About & Celebrate 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 for resources to celebrate and learn about Black culture and history, while helping your family engage in important conversations about race in America. Then, keep playing and learning withLearn Along Bingo sheets all about influential Black leaders, as well as a full lineup of programs in our weekday Learning at Home block!

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.

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 3-12
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New York Times Runs Unpublished Photo Series for Black History Month | PBS NewsHour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 6-12
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.

Say it Loud |PBS Digital Studios

Grades 9-12
Say It Loud is a PBS Digital Studios show starring Evelyn (From The Internets) Ngugi and Azie Dungey of Ask A Slave. The show covers topics around African American history, culture, and context — because black history is American history. Check out videos from season one like “How Do You Define Black Pride?” and “Should You Go To an HBCU?,” and get excited for season two kicking off with “Juneteenth: Freedom and the Fine Print.”

Black Leaders & Visionaries

Zora Neale Hurston | Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum

Grades K-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 3-8
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 3-8
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 3-12
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.

Bessie Coleman | Unladylike2020

Grades 6-12
Explore how Bessie Coleman became the first female black pilot and the first African American to hold an international license to fly in this digital short from Unladylike2020. Using video, discussion questions, vocabulary, and a classroom activity, students learn how Coleman achieved her dream of flying during the era of Jim Crow—a time when it seemed impossible—and laid the groundwork for future African American pilots.

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.

PBS KIDS Talk about: Race & Racism

Grades PreK-2
In the PBS KIDS Talk About: Race & Racism special, PBS KIDS spoke with real families and had conversations about racial identity, anti-Black racism, and how it is incumbent on all of us — children and parents alike — to actively work towards building a more equitable society. Use this Discussion Guide, paired with the PBS KIDS special, for some simple and age-appropriate ideas on continuing these conversations about race and racism

Talking to Young Children About Race and Racism

Grades PreK-3
This collection from PBS KIDS for Parents includes a variety of tips and resources to help you have a meaningful conversation with young children about race, racism, and being anti-racist. Articles cover topics like “The Benefits of Teaching Children to See Race” and “3 Ideas to Support Your Family’s Anti-Racism Journey” and include activities like the “Draw Yourself as an Advocate” sheet.

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.

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 Americans.

Tuesday, February 15

1 PM: American Masters | Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands

Directed by Emmy and Peabody Award-winner Rita Coburn, American Masters – Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands explores the life, career, art and legacy of the African American contralto and civil rights pioneer in her own words using archival interview recordings. Marian Anderson’s singing and speaking voice are heard throughout the documentary, providing new understanding of the woman behind the music.

Thursday,February 17

1 PM: Prince Among Slaves

This special tells the forgotten true story of an African prince who was enslaved in Mississippi for 40 years before finally achieving freedom and becoming one of the most famous men in America.

2 PM: John Lewis: Get in the Way

Follow the journey of civil rights hero, congressman and human rights champion John Lewis. A film by Kathleen Dowdey, “John Lewis – Get in the Way” is the first biographical documentary about Lewis, an inspiring portrait of one man cast into extraordinary times and his unhesitating dedication to seeking justice for the marginalized and ignored. The film spans more than half a century, tracing Lewis’ journey of courage, confrontations and hard-won triumphs.

Friday,February 18

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.

Tuesday,February 22

1 PM: American Experience: Jesse Owens

The most famous athlete of his time, his stunning triumph at the 1936 Olympic Games captivated the world even as it infuriated the Nazis. Despite the racial slurs he endured, Jesse Owens’ grace and athleticism rallied crowds across the globe. But when the four-time Olympic gold medalist returned home, he could not even ride in the front of a bus. The story of the 22-year-old son of a sharecropper who triumphed over adversity to become a hero and world champion, Jesse Owens is also about the elusive, fleeting quality of fame and the way Americans idolize athletes when they suit our purpose, and forget them once they don’t.

2 PM: American Experience: The American Diplomat

The American Diplomat explores the lives and legacies of three African American ambassadors — Edward Dudley, Terence Todman and Carl Rowan — who pushed past historical and institutional racial barriers to reach high-ranking appointments in the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. At the height of the civil rights movement in the United States, the three men were asked to represent the best of American ideals abroad while facing discrimination at home. Oft reputed as “pale, male and Yale,” the U.S. State Department fiercely maintained and cultivated the Foreign Service’s elitist character and was one of the last federal agencies to desegregate. Through rare archival footage, in-depth oral histories and interviews with family members, colleagues and diplomats, the film paints a portrait of three men who left a lasting impact on the content and character of the Foreign Service and changed American diplomacy forever. 

Thursday,February 24

1 PM: The Education of Harvey Gantt

In 1960, a talented African-American student from Charleston, Harvey Gantt, graduated from high school and decided to become an architect. Clemson College was the only school in South Carolina that offered a degree in his chosen field. In January of 1963, with the help of NAACP lawyer Matthew J. Perry, Gantt won a lawsuit against Clemson and was peacefully admitted to the college.

2 PM: Fannie Lou Hamer’s America: An America Reframed Special

Fannie Lou Hamer’s America focuses on the incredible life of one of the Civil Rights Movement’s greatest leaders and the injustices that made her work essential. Airing during Black History Month, the film is produced by Hamer’s great-niece Monica Land and Selena Lauterer and directed by Joy Davenport.

Friday,February 25

2 PM: Bird: Not Out of Nowhere

Kansas City PBS is proud to present a documentary that looks back at the years Charlie “Bird” Parker spent in Kansas City and his lasting legacy on the Kansas City jazz scene. Bird: Not Out of Nowhere features rarely seen archival footage of Parker, interviews with musicians and historians, and live performances from Kansas City’s most talented jazz musicians.

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.

Let’s 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

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

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.