Black History Month at Brainerd Baptist School


The month of February has been designated as Black History month since the 1970s when President Gerald Ford urged Americans to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Over the years, our teachers have done an amazing job of incorporating meaningful activities into our curriculum that celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans throughout our history.

Several years ago, former music teacher Lisa Kell developed a special chapel program to recognize famous African Americans. While this chapel was the most visible of our endeavors to celebrate Black History month, it did not adequately capture all the activities that our teachers have incorporated into their classes. We have not done a good job of communicating the great things that are happening in our classrooms all month in conjunction with Black History Month. This post is an attempt to provide our parents with a general overview of activities that summarize how each grade level is incorporating Black History Month into our classrooms. Although this list is not exhaustive, it does give insight into various learning activities that are happening throughout the month.

Additionally, we have a special chapel planned for Wednesday, February 20th, to highlight Black History Month. We have three special speakers that will be talking about Black History Month from different perspectives. Mrs. Celeste Bradley, parent to both Spencer (5th grade) and Austin (2nd grade), who is an attorney here locally will talk about education advancements since the introduction of Black History Month. Mrs. Kilzma Brown, parent of Regan (‘18), and Lacy (2nd grade), will explore the topic of worship and how different cultures are unified in our worship of our Lord, and Shaq Hardy, Youth Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church, will close our time with a challenge to all students with the concept that as followers of Christ, we have more in common than not, and that we are all created in the image of God.

Black History Month Areas of Study

1st Grade studies the life and achievements of MLK, Jr. in January with a week of reading books and center activities all centered around this great leader. In February, they study and discuss the following:
Freedom quilt craft (along with Underground Railroad discussion)
Mae Jemison craft (discussion of 1st African American woman in space)
Jesse Owens
Booker T. Washington
George Washington Carver
Jackie Robinson
Harriet Tubman
Ralph Bunche
Alex Haley
Wilma Rudolph

North America is our continent of study for February/March, so many of these individuals come up throughout our focus. It is also our "Famous American" presentation month so other folks like MLK Jr, Ruby Bridges, and other African American athletes coincidentally are presented by our first graders.

2nd Grade studies Black history in the context of our F & F reading unit which focuses on recognizing the important details in a book. All of our books are about African Americans who have made a difference, especially in the Civil Rights Movement. The children will be reading and learning about Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr, Jackie Robinson, and the topic of segregation of black baseball players in the major leagues. The students will also be individually researching famous African Americans and creating a project about them.

3rd Grade does a unit on Famous Americans during the month of February in Social Studies. The students will read a biography and complete a Coke bottle project for their famous person. This project is a fun way to show the facts that they have learned in their books. The students will choose from famous women, Hawaiians, and African Americans.
The 3rd grade will also be going off campus to see the play, Freedom Train, which is the story of Harriet Tubman. Additionally, the books that our students will be reading as a part our F&F unit are on African Americans.

4th Grade has several areas of focus during Black History Month. Some of the learning activities that are:
1. EPB black history poetry contest - students will work on this during English and Social Studies classes

2. Scholastic News Article on Black History and Scholastic activities associated with this issue - Reading class

3. The students will view the movie No More Baths. The will learn about racism in an age appropriate setting in which children can easily make connections

4. 4th graders will complete 2-3 Black History Vignette focuses per week during February. Before reading class we will highlight a person who accomplished something great among America's black community (medical, political, musical, literary, etc.). In reading class this information will be supplemented through center activities such as practicing cursive using famous quotes from books or songs, reading comprehension focusing upon a particular person with questions to help students focus on main ideas, and video clips on iPads that show special Black History features.

5th Grade reads The Watson's Go to Birmingham about the bombing in the Birmingham church.  Our F&F unit is on fact and opinion and we will read articles on famous African Americans.

Most of the articles are from a book called Famous African Americans.  Rube Foster, Ruby Bridges, Hank Aaron, MLK, Jackie Robinson, Booker T. Washington, Sarah Breedlove (later became Madame C.J. Walker), Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Dr. Ben Carson are a few of the people we read about.  People were selected from many different areas of walks of life that would interest the students, but also would give them examples of how people can influence many lives in small or big ways. It also gives our present students a glimpse into the past where black people suffered much hardship to gain the civil rights they deserved. 

Sean Corcoran