Black History Month Lesson Plan

Share the importance of Black History Month with your students. Bring classrooms to life with MY HERO's Multimedia Resources and Lesson Plan for Teachers. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.

Black History Month Lesson Plan
Credit: MY HERO

Lesson Resources for Middle and High School Students

Students Watch the following Black History Month Films Reflecting on the Fight for Civil Rights.

The March for Freedom 1963

Davon Johnson

Nonviolent civil disobedience based on Christian beliefs started long before the 1963 peaceful protest, March for Freedom on Washington D.C. PASSWORD: 2march4freedom1963

William D Matthews: A Cure for Rebellion

Taegan Loy and Trent Powell

This documentary tells the story of William D. Matthews, , abolitionist, and Civil War veteran, who assisted African-Americans escaping from slavery using the Underground Railroad, and led troops to victory, as the first African-American officer, in the Civil War.

Black History Film Discussion Questions

1. What were the contributions of A. Phillip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and A.J. Muste to the Civil Rights Movement? 

2. What effect did the March for Freedom in 1963 have on the rights of individuals? What still needs to be done to ensure equal rights for all?  

3. William D. Mathews is an example of an unsung hero who fought for freedom. Who are other unsung heroes who have fought or are fighting for equal rights and freedom from discrimination? Consider sharing their story with MY HERO.

4. The students from Seaman High School produced the film honoring William D. Mathews. Students are encouraged to use this as an example of how to honor their hero through audio and images in film.

Black History Month | Featured Hero: John Lewis

John Lewis
Credit: MY HERO


Produced by:Anson Schloat and John G. Young

A film about John Lewis on citizenship and character: "To be a good citizen is to obey the rules...the laws. Unless those laws conflict with your conscience.

Congressman John Lewis, Portrait by Robert Shetterly, AWTT.org

By: Xenia Shin

John Lewis was involved in the Civil Rights Movement as a young man and then later became a member the House of Representatives from the state of Georgia.

Congressman John Lewis Discussion Questions

1. In the film Citizenship, Congressman John Lewis states when the laws conflict with our conscience, we have an obligation to disobey the laws. Do you agree or disagree with Lewis?

2. Were the civil rights activists of the 1960s successful in changing the laws by breaking the laws? 

3. What character traits do you think a good citizen possesses?

4. As a student, what tools do you have in your power to affect laws in your country?

The following films, which were recognized at the MY HERO International Film Festival, are by young emerging African American student filmmakers.

Racism Must Stop

Azomali Obisakin | In-Progress
A documentary short exploring the impact of racism on the lives of children and adults.

Heroes Wanted

Trey Carlisle
Trey celebrates the best of humanity with this original hero anthem!

Breonna's Garden AR

Lady Phoenix & Sutu
Breonna’s Garden is an Augmented Reality experience being created in collaboration with Ju’Niyah Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s little sister.


Produced by:Gabrielle Gorman

An expressionistic account of a devastating historical event by emerging filmmaker Gabrielle Gorman.

Emerging Filmmakers Discussion Questions

1. How do these films look back at history and also tell us about the African American experience today?

2. How do each filmmaker's personal beliefs and individual styles influence the content of each film? 

3. How does racism still exist today? 

Learn about Byran Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Bryan Stevenson

By: Arthur (Trey) Carlisle

Bryan Stevenson has been recognized across the globe for the work that he has done to address poverty and racial inequality.

The Equal Justice Initiative

Gabriel Diamond

Bryan Stevenson and Equal Justice Initiative litigate cases for the unjustly imprisoned and work to reform the justice system.

Amanda Gorman made history as America's First Youth Poet Laureate and read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at Joe Biden's Presidential Inauguration.

Learn more about Amanda Gorman by reading this story by Shannon Luders-Manuel.

Listen to Amanda Gorman reciting "The Hill We Climb". Scroll down to external links to find a lesson plan by PBS for "The Hill We Climb". 

Amanda Gorman: The Poet Who Healed a Nation

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel
Amanda Gorman, America's first Youth Poet Laureate, recited the original poem "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The Hill We Climb by Poet Hero Amanda Gorman

Audio of The Hill We Climb "For there was always light. If only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it." 

Black Lives Matter: Students learn about the Black Lives Matter Movement through art. 

George Floyd

By: Saint George
George Floyd was a victim of police brutality. The local protests fueled by social media became global protests.

Portrait of Breonna Taylor

By: Saint George

George Floyd

By: Giselle Villatoro

George Floyd became a national symbol against police brutality on the black community. The Black Lives Matter's movement honors him and fights for injustices against the black community at the hands of the police.

Breonna Taylor

By: Giselle Villatoro
Breonna Taylor has become a national symbol against police brutality on the black community. She graduated as an EMT and was working to fight against the coronavirus pandemic. She was killed by the police while asleep during a raid of her apartment. The Black Lives Matter movement honors her memory and fights against injustices so that there are no more deaths of black people at the hands of the police.

Ahmaud Arbery

By: Giselle Villatoro
The Black Lives Matter movement honors Ahmaud Arbery and fights for injustices against the black community at the hands of the police.

Click on the Banner Below for Additional Artwork Honoring Black History Heroes

Black History Month Artwork
Credit: MY HERO

Historian Carter Woodson - Known as the Father of Black History Month



The historian Carter Woodson is known as the "Father of Black History Month." In 1926, he established Negro History Week. He chose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Half a century later, this observance evolved into Black History Month, which we celebrate the entire month of February.

Carter G. Woodson

By: Raven from Colorado

Carter Woodson, "Father of Black History Month," founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History because the contributions of African Americans "were overlooked and ignored.

From Slavery to Speeches: Frederick Douglass

By: Sean Rollins

Frederick Douglass understood the power of stories. He wrote several autobiographies through his life, from slavery to statesman. He was a powerful advocate for the Abolitionist and Suffragist movement, and famous orator and writer.

Carter Woodson started the Association for the Study of African American Life and History because he felt the contributions of African Americans were "overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them."

In light of Woodson's quote, why do you think Frederick Douglass wrote multiple autobiographies? What might have happened if he did not write down his life story?

W.E.B. Dubois and Katherine Johnson

Students read the stories about W.E.B. Dubois and Katherine Johnson and watch the middle school-produced film, Katherine Johnson, the Human-Computer. Then consider the discussion questions

W.E.B. Dubois

By: Jennifer Beck

Martin Luther King, Jr. said "history cannot ignore W.E.B. Dubois." Dubois was a leading 20th century writer and scholar who laid the intellectual foundations of African American literature and civil rights movement.

Katherine Johnson

By: Kyra from Ankara, Turkey

Her story was hidden for decades: Katherine Johnson plotted multiple flight courses for NASA, including the Apollo 11 spacecraft, the first spaceship to reach the moon. This story is available in text with audio.

Katherine Johnson: The Human Computer

Jasmine Blossom Martoglio | Batchelor Middle School
This is a documentary about Katherine Johnson and why she is an American hero.

W.E.B. DuBois and Katherine Johnson Discussion Questions


1. Woodson thought the contributions of African Americans were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who used them. How does Woodson's quote relate to the story of Katherine Johnson, and the title of the movie about her, Hidden Figures?

2. Martin Luther King, Jr. said "history cannot ignore W.E.B. Dubois." Based on your reading of the story, what do you think King meant by his statement? Why is what he said true or not true? 

3. What can we do today to  keep stories from being overlooked, ignored or suppressed? 

Additional stories of black heroes in history across disciplines

Constance Baker Motley

By: Jane Wallace
Constance Baker Motley was one of America's most effective, least known Civil Rights revolutionaries.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt
Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt.

The Word Revolutionist: James Baldwin

By: Sebastian Ruiz
James Baldwin was a highly influential author of the Harlem Renaissance.

Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Peter Norman

By: Jesse Zaragoza
Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Peter Norman, who were part of the 1968 Olympic team in track and field, raised their fists during the US National Anthem in support of civil rights.

MY HERO Black History Month Resources to Enrich Learning

Click on the following thumbnails for curated stories, art and films on Civil Rights Heroes and World Leaders; Heroes in Art, Music & Literature; Sports Heroes; and Science Heroes, as we celebrate Black History Month.

Black History Month | Civil Rights Heroes and World Leaders

By: MY HERO Staff

MY HERO Celebrates Black History Month. Be Inspired by African American Civil Rights Heroes and World Leaders.

Black History Month | Heroes in Music, Art, and Literature

By: MY HERO Staff

MY HERO Celebrates Black History Month. Learn about Heroes in Music, Art, and Literature

Black History Month | Heroes in Sports

By: MY HERO Staff

MY HERO Celebrates Black History Month. Get inspired by African American Heroes in Sports.

Black History Month | Heroes in the Sciences

By: MY HERO Staff

MY HERO Celebrates Black History with this feature on African American Heroes in the Sciences

Black Lives Matter - Voices for Hope and Change Resource Showcase

Activists for Racial Justice: Films, Art and Stories
Credit: MY HERO

Learning Outcomes

As students recognize the contributions of individuals to the abolition of slavery and civil rights movement, they will develop critical thinking skills. Students will identity civil rights leaders who inspire them. Students are encouraged to stand up for their rights and the rights of others, both in their community and globally.  

MY HERO Calendars for use in the Classroom

MY HERO's Teachers Calendar Features Lesson Plans and Multimedia Resources

Teachers Calendar
Credit: MY HERO

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Use the MY HERO Calendar in the Classroom


Laura Nietzer

The Black History lesson plan was curated by MY HERO Education Outreach Director Laura Nietzer.

Links to more Black History Month resources.

Even More MY HERO Resources to Use in the Classroom

How to use MY HERO's Create Program to Publish Stories, Art, Film and Audio for Students

Tutorial for students: Publish written stories, film, original artwork and audio in MY HERO's multimedia library.

Create Program
Credit: MY HERO

Organizer created on 1/17/2020 11:21:24 AM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 1/31/2024 11:19:45 AM by Laura Nietzer