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Black History Month 2016

Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories”

Background Information, Lesson Plans, and Internet Resources for the Elementary Classroom
Department of Social Sciences

Miami-Dade County Public Schools

February 2016 (Revised)

Ms. Perla Tabares Hantman, Chair
Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Vice-Chair
Ms. Susie V. Castillo
Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman
Dr. Wilbert “Tee” Holloway
Dr. Martin Karp
Ms. Lubby Navarro
Dr. Marta Pérez Wurtz
Ms. Raquel A. Regalado

Logan Schroeder Stephens

Student Advisor

Mr. Alberto M. Carvalho

Superintendent of Schools

Mrs. Maria L. Izquierdo, Chief Academic Officer

Office of Academics and Transformation

Dr. Maria P. de Armas, Assistant Superintendent

Curriculum and Instruction, K-12 Core Curriculum

Mr. Robert C. Brazofsky, Executive Director

Department of Social Sciences

Introduction and an Instructional Note to Teachers about Black History Month

The purpose of Black History Month is to call attention to the many cultural, social, spiritual, and economic contributions of African Americans to the United States. However, in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, African American history is a topic of substance that is woven into all subjects throughout the school year. Black History Month provides schools with additional opportunities to emphasize and celebrate African American history in all of Miami-Dade County’s public schools.

The 2016 Black History Month theme is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.” An overview of the theme is provided in this instructional resource guide. Lesson plans and support materials to reinforce this year’s theme are also provided.

To assist schools, staff in the Department of Social Sciences has developed this instructional resource guide that includes background information, suggested classroom activities, and Internet resources for Black History Month. These resources are intended to serve as tools to support both the month’s commemoration and the instructional requirements of Florida Statute 1003.421 requiring the study of the African American experience in the United States. Resources in this guide include:

  • BACKGROUND INFORMATION - This section includes detailed background and reference information to support Black History Month.

  • LESSONS, ACTIVITIES, AND STRATEGIES FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS Detailed lesson plans with all support materials needed to support instruction during Black History Month are provided in this section of the guide. These lessons are also applicable throughout the curriculum and school year.

  • INTERNET RESOURCES - Related lesson plans, teacher background information, interactive activities, and downloadable worksheets may be found on the web sites listed in this section of the guide.

  • ELEMENTARY CHARACTER EDUCATION RESOURCES – Additional lesson ideas are included to support the core value of “kindness,” which has been designated by the District for the month of February.

Teachers are highly encouraged to utilize the resources and lessons found in this instructional resource guide whenever appropriate throughout the school year. Teachers are further encouraged to select and adapt the resources and lessons to best fit the needs of their students.

Special Programs and Activities for Black History Month

To further support teachers and administrators in their efforts to provide educationally meaningful experiences for all students, the Department of Social Sciences is sponsoring or co-sponsoring the following special programs and activities during Black History Month.

39th Annual Theodore Gibson Oratorical Competition - Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in cooperation with Miami Dade College, is co-sponsoring the 39th Annual Theodore Gibson Oratorical Competition. In this competition, elementary and secondary students compete for the coveted Theodore Gibson medallion. The competition exposes students to a breadth of writings about the African American experience and provides them with the opportunity to refine their research, writing, and public speaking skills through a challenging competition. The final competition will be held in May 2016.

The 26th Annual African American Read-In Chain - The 26th Annual African American Read-in Chain is scheduled each Monday during the month of February (February 1, 8, 15, 22, 29). On these days, schools are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month as they select books authored by African Americans and host school Read-Ins. A completed African American Read-In school report card from each participating school is submitted to the Department of Social Sciences. The African American Read-In Chain has been endorsed by the International Reading Association. Reporting forms are currently available on the Department of Social Sciences website at

The Black History Month Elementary and Secondary Essay Contest - To support the National Black History Month theme, “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories,” and the District’s reading and writing initiatives, the Department of Social Sciences, in cooperation with the United Teachers of Dade and 99 JAMZ radio, is sponsoring a Black History Month Essay Contest. This contest is open to elementary, middle, and senior high school students who will compete in separate categories.

The Griot, the African American History Newsletter - A special edition of the newsletter will be available online for all schools in February 2016.

For further information on these special programs and activities, please contact Dr. Sherrilyn Scott, Supervisor, Department of Social Sciences, at

Background Information

  • 2016 Black History Month Theme – “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.”

  • Websites to Support the 2016 Black History Month Theme -“Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.”

  • Biography of Dr. Carter G. Woodson – The Father of Black History Month

  • An Overview of African American History – World Book Encyclopedia (Advanced)

  • African-American History Timeline (1619-2008)

  • Notable African Americans

  • Inspirational Quotes from African American Leaders

  • Black History Month - Teaching About Ethnic and Cultural History

  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Nine Core Character Education Values

2016 Black History Month Theme –

Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories”

ASALAH and Dr. Carter G. Woodson

The Association of African American Life and History (ASALAH) was founded in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The mission of ASALH is to promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community.

Known as the “Father of Black History,” Dr. Woodson (1875-1950) was the son of former slaves, and understood how important gaining a proper education is when striving to secure and make the most out of one’s right of freedom. Although he did not begin his formal education until he was nearly 20 years old, his dedication to study enabled him to earn a high school diploma in West Virginia and bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago in just a few years. In 1912, Woodson became the second African American to earn a PhD at Harvard University.

In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, this celebration was expanded to include the entire month of February. Each year, ASALAH develops the annual Black History Month theme. The theme for 2016 is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.” A description of this year’s theme follows.

2016 Theme - “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.”

The history of African Americans unfolds across the canvas of America, beginning before the arrival of the Mayflower and continuing to the present. From port cities where Africans disembarked from slave ships to the battlefields where their descendants fought for freedom, from the colleges and universities where they pursued education to places where they created communities during centuries of migration, the imprint of Americans of African descent is deeply embedded in the narrative of the American past. These sites prompt us to remember and over time became hallowed grounds.

One cannot tell the story of America without preserving and reflecting on the places where African Americans have made history. The Kingsley Plantation, DuSable’s home site, the numerous stops along the Underground Railroad, Seneca Village, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church and Frederick Douglass’ home - to name just a few - are sites that keep alive the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in our consciousness. They retain and refresh the memories of our forbears’ struggles for freedom and justice, and their belief in God’s grace and mercy. Similarly, the hallowed grounds of Mary McLeod Bethune’s home in Washington, D.C., 125th Street in Harlem, Beale Street in Memphis, and Sweet Auburn Avenue in Atlanta tell the story of our struggle for equal citizenship during the American century.
The Association for the Study of African American Life & History has selected this annual theme to bring attention to the centennial celebration of the National Park Service and the more than twenty-five sites and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom that are part of America’s hallowed grounds, including the home of the father of black history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
Websites to Support the 2016 Black History Month Theme -

Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories.”

One cannot tell the story of America without preserving and reflecting on the places where African Americans have made history. These sites prompt us to remember and over time became hallowed grounds.

The Kingsley Plantation, DuSable’s home site, the numerous stops along the Underground Railroad, Seneca Village, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, and Frederick Douglass’ home are some of the sites that keep alive the African American experience in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They retain and refresh the memories the African American struggle for freedom and justice. Similarly, the hallowed grounds of Mary McLeod Bethune’s home in Washington, D.C., 125 Street in Harlem in New York City, Beale Street in Memphis, and Sweet Auburn Avenue in Atlanta tell the story of the African American struggle for equal citizenship during the American century.

The following sites provide excellent resources about hallowed grounds or historical sites of African American memories.

  • Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee -

  • Frederick Douglass’ Home -

  • Harlem, New York City -

  • Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable’s Home Site, Chicago, Illinois -

  • Kingsley Plantation, Jacksonville, Florida -

  • Mary McLeod Bethune Council House in Washington D.C. -

  • Mother Bethel A.M. E. Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Stop on the Underground Railroad) -

  • Seneca Village, New York City -

  • Sweet Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia -

  • Underground Railroad -

Other Recommended Sites:

  • Association for African American Museums:

  • National Park Service:

  • The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, African American Heritage:

Biography of Dr. Carter G. Woodson – The Father of Black History Month


Carter G. Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia. One of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard University, Woodson dedicated his career to the field of African American history and lobbied extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide institution. He also wrote many historical works, including the 1933 book The Mis-Education of the Negro. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1950.

Early Life

Carter Godwin Woodson was born on December 19, 1875, in New Canton, Virginia, to Anna Eliza and James Woodson. The first son of nine children, the young Woodson worked as a sharecropper and a miner to help his family. He began high school in his late teens and proved to be an excellent student, completing a four-year course of study in less than two years.

After attending Berea College in Kentucky, Woodson worked for the U.S. government as an education superintendent in the Philippines and undertook more travels before returning to the U.S. Woodson then earned his bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Chicago and went on to receive a doctorate from Harvard University in 1912 - becoming the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from the prestigious institution, after W.E.B. Du Bois. After finishing his education, Woodson dedicated himself to the field of African American history, working to make sure that the subject was taught in schools and studied by scholars. For his efforts, Woodson is often called the "Father of Black History."

Writing 'Mis-Education of the Negro'

In 1915, Carter G. Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (which later became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History), which had the goal of placing African American historical contributions front and center. The next year he established the Journal of Negro History, a scholarly publication.

Woodson also formed the African American-owned Associated Publishers Press in 1921 and would go on to write more than a dozen books over the years, including A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and Mis-Education of the Negro (1933). Mis-Education - with its focus on the Western indoctrination system and African American self-empowerment - is a particularly noted work and has become regularly course adopted by college institutions.

In addition to his writing pursuits, Woodson also worked in a number of educational positions, serving as a principal for Washington, D.C.'s Armstrong Manual Training School before working as a college dean at Howard University and the West Virginia Collegiate Institute.

Creating Black History Month

Woodson lobbied schools and organizations to participate in a special program to encourage the study of African American history, which began in February 1926 with Negro History Week. The program was later expanded and renamed Black History Month. (Woodson had chosen February for the initial weeklong celebration to honor the birth months of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.)

To help teachers with African American studies, Woodson later created the Negro History Bulletin in 1937 and also penned literature for elementary and secondary school students.

Woodson died on April 3, 1950, a respected and honored figure who received accolades for his vision. His legacy continues on, with Black History Month being a national cultural force recognized by a variety of media formats, organizations and educational institutions.

An Overview of African American History
The lengthy article below on African American history is an excellent overview of the African American experience from earliest times to the present. The article is intended primarily as a reference for teachers.
The article is from the on-line edition of the World Book Encyclopedia Advanced (2014) available for students and teachers through the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Department of Library Media Services. To access the full article:

  1. Visit Library Media Services at

(Password needed. Check with the Media Specialist.)

  1. Click the On-line Data Bases and select World Book Online Reference Center

  2. Select World Book Advanced

  3. Search for “African American”

  4. Click on the article entitled “African American.”

Introduction African Americans are Americans mostly or partly of African descent. About 40 million African Americans live in the United States. They account for 13 percent of the nation's total population and, in number, trail only Hispanic Americans among minority groups. About half of all black Americans live in the Southern States. Most of the rest live in large cities in other regions.
Most African Americans have used a number of terms to refer to themselves. The terms Negro (which means black in Spanish and Portuguese) and colored were commonly used until the mid-1960's. These terms referred to the dark brown skin color of many black Americans. Since then, most black Americans have chosen to express deep pride in their color or origin by calling themselves blacks, Afro-Americans, or African Americans.
The majority of African Americans trace their origin to an area in western Africa that was controlled by three great and wealthy black empires from about the A.D. 300's to the late 1500's. These empires—Ghana, Mali, and Songhai—thrived on trade and developed efficient governments. During the early 1500's, European nations began a slave trade in which blacks from western Africa were brought to European colonies in the Americas. For about the next 300 years, millions of enslaved black Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to North and South America. About 500,000 of the Africans were brought to what is now the United States.
The history of African Americans is largely the story of their struggle for freedom and equality. From the 1600's until the American Civil War (1861-1865), most black Americans worked as slaves throughout the South. They did much to help Southern agriculture expand. At the same time, free blacks helped develop industry in the North. Even after 1865, when slavery was finally abolished in the United States, black Americans briefly gained their civil rights during a period called Reconstruction. But after Reconstruction, they again lost those rights and suffered from widespread segregation (separation by race) and poverty. The determined efforts of African Americans to achieve equality and justice led to the start of a strong civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950's.
The lives of African Americans have improved since the 1950's. More black Americans are making important contributions in all areas of American life. The election in 2008 of Barack Obama as the first African American president reflects the significant strides toward equality that have been made in the United States. However, many African Americans still suffer from segregation and poverty, discrimination in jobs and housing, and other problems.
This article describes the African background of black Americans and traces their history since their arrival in North America.

The African Background The ancestors of most American blacks came from an area of Africa known as the Western Sudan. This area was about as large as the United States, not including Hawaii and Alaska. It extended from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Lake Chad in the east and from the Sahara in the north to the Gulf of Guinea in the south.

From about the A.D. 300's to 1591, three highly developed black empires, in turn, controlled all or most of the Western Sudan. They were Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. Their economies were based on farming, on mining gold, and on trade with Arabs of northern Africa.
Ghana ruled much of the Western Sudan from the 300's to the mid-1000's. The Ghanaians became the first people in western Africa to smelt iron ore. They made arrows, swords, and other weapons of iron, which helped them conquer nearby nations.
In 1235, the Malinke people of Mali began to develop the second great black African empire of the Western Sudan. By 1240, they controlled all Ghana. The Mali Empire's most famous ruler was Mansa Musa, who reigned from 1312 to about 1337. Mansa Musa encouraged the practice of Islam, the religion of the Muslims. Under his rule, Mali reached its height of wealth, political power, and cultural achievement.
Beginning in the 1400's, the Songhai Empire gained control of most of northwestern Africa south of the Sahara, including much of Mali. Under Askia Muhammad, who ruled Songhai from 1493 to 1528, the empire had a well-organized central government and excellent universities in such cities as Timbuktu and Djénné. Like Mansa Musa, Askia encouraged his people to practice the Islamic faith. Invaders from Morocco conquered Songhai in 1591.
Some ancestors of African Americans lived in smaller nations in the Western Sudan. These nations included Oyo, Benin, Dahomey, and Ashanti. Their economies also depended on farming, trade, and gold mining. For more details on the major black African empires, see Ghana EmpireMali EmpireSonghai Empire.

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