Learn About Black History, Culture and Politics

Learn about Black history in the United States before and after the Civil War; the Civil Rights Movement; the history of Africa; African American art; and African American trailblazers.

Civil Rights

While the Reconstruction Amendments were an important step in ensuring equal rights for all people, regardless of race, racial injustices throughout the United States continued into the late 19th and 20th centuries, leading to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and the passages of Supreme Court decisions and legislation, including Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Visit the National Constitution Center’s learning module to learn more about the freedom struggle and civil rights.

14th Amendment: Battles for Equality

The 14th Amendment wrote the Declaration of Independence’s promise of freedom and equality into the Constitution. It transformed the Constitution forever. And it’s at the heart of what many scholars refer to as America’s “Second Founding.” Even so, the 14th Amendment is the focus of many of the most important constitutional debates (and Supreme Court cases) today. In many ways, the history of the modern Supreme Court is really a history of modern-day battles over the 14th Amendment’s meaning. Nearly every constitutional case that you care about today turns on the 14th Amendment.

African American History Month Resources

African American History Month evolved from the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the second week of February. Historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson framed the concept that became the first Negro History Week in February 1926. It developed into a monthlong commemoration of the struggles and triumphs of the African American community. On this page, learn the stories of Autherine Lucy Foster, the first African American student to attempt to integrate the University of Alabama; Frank M. Johnson, Jr., the federal judge who ruled in the Rosa Parks case; and Linda Brown, the 9-year-old who became the face of children caught in the crossfire of the fight for social change. The Pathways to the Bench video series features profiles of African American federal judges who offer perspectives on their experiences during the Civil Rights era.

Rights in America

This DocsTeach page includes a variety of primary sources and teaching activities exploring the ways Americans, including African Americans and others, have fought for, attained, and protected their rights. Many documents at the National Archives illustrate how individuals and groups asserted their rights as Americans. Use this site to find teaching activities to explore the topics such as slavery, racism, citizenship, women’s independence, immigration, and more.

Grades 4, 5, 6-12
Citizenship

Black History Month Lesson Plans on Nonviolence

The power of nonviolent actions and attitudes as a means to resist oppression and spur reforms is a recurring feature of democratic and democratizing societies. The School Violence Prevention Demonstration Program presents educators with lesson plans that explore the use of nonviolence in history, paying particular attention to the civil rights movement and African American history. Six lessons address: the 1963 Children’s March; the concept of nonviolence using primary sources and stories of participants in the civil rights movement; the power of nonviolence; the story of Rosa Parks; citizenship schools; how music can be used to achieve social and political change.

60-Second Podcasts for Black History Month

Each day in February, 60-Second Civics will feature a podcast episode dedicated to the African American experience, with a special focus on the expansion of civil rights since the nation’s founding era and the confrontation of modern challenges to full equality. Each podcast includes audio, video, and the Daily Civics Quiz.

Grades 8, 9-12
History
Assessments