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.

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.

The Power of Nonviolence: Rosa Parks: A Quest for Equal Protection Under the Law

This lesson asks students to revisit the well-known story of a figure in the civil rights movement–Rosa Parks–through the primary source documents associated with her arrest in 1955. The arrest occurred in the shadow of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) and had a powerful impact on the public policy of segregation and the application of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Grades 5, 6, 7, 8
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Lesson Plans

Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is an active refusal to obey specific demands or laws of a government. Throughout the history of the United States, many Americans have employed civil disobedience as a form of political activism in order to change society. The Bill of Rights Institute provides lessons and historical examples of the origins and instances of this movement in American history.