How can schools get involved with Black History Month in 2023?
This blog will outline this year’s Black History Month, explain the significance of schools’ contributions, and provide some ideas to help you mark Black History Month in school.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month takes place throughout October in the UK. It is a time for celebration, reflection, and sombre contemplation upon Black people’s experiences and contributions to society.
This year’s theme is ‘Saluting our Sisters’, which celebrates Black women of the past and present. Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE writes on the Black History Month website that this theme, ‘pays homage to Black women who had contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced’.
Black History Month is a significant, nation-wide event, and schools can play an important role in extending the impact of this month.
Why should schools get involved with Black History Month?
Black History Month celebrates Black communities and their successes and struggles in British society, and highlights issues of racism and appropriation experienced today.
Bringing Black History Month into school can help you as educators to shape the next generation.
Whilst lessons of diversity, equality, and inclusion should be woven throughout the whole school year, Black History Month can be a good time to highlight the need to break cycles of racism and discrimination, and further educate your pupils on fairness. Let your school be a safe space of inclusion year-round.
We think Black History Month can be best celebrated with an interdisciplinary approach for a whole-school impact. Don’t let your celebrations be limited to one assembly at the start of October. Instead, look to integrate your activities and ideas to mark this occasion throughout the month, across various settings in school, and within different subjects.
Right – time for some ideas!
Some ideas to mark Black History Month in school
Picture News Black History Month pack:
We know how important it is for children of all ages to engage with Black History Month. That’s why we’re publishing a pack related to this year’s theme, ‘Saluting our Sisters’.
Subscribed schools will receive this automatically. However, if you are not yet subscribed and would like to teach your pupils about Black History Month, request a pack here.
Either for the whole school or divided into age groups, your assembly could outline what this time of year means, with information and facts relating to the theme, ‘Saluting our Sisters’.
Remember to include open-ended questions for your audience to engage with and offer their thoughts.
Carry out research projects with your pupils about inspirational Black women from past and present.
In keeping with this year’s theme, here are some examples of women to focus on to get your research projects started:
Rosa Parks: Activist in the American Civil Rights movement, who undertook the Montgomery bus boycott
Nicola Adams: British former professional boxer
Mary Seacole: Treated wounded military personnel during the Crimean War
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Author and feminist
Evelyn Dove: Singer and the first woman of African heritage to be broadcast on the BBC in 1925
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon: Social entrepreneur and advocate for women in STEM
Dame Sharon White: British businesswoman
Audre Lorde: Writer, professor, activist, feminist and LGBT advocate
You could present your findings in a variety of ways, including:
Pupil-led presentations: this can boost your pupils’ understanding and confidence as they lead the way to present their findings
School displays: making a display in the school entrance or communal areas is a good way for the whole school to learn about different inspirational women
Scrapbooks: this could be added to each year with work relating to different Black History Month themes
Hot-seating: encourage your pupils to find out as much as they can about a chosen woman, so that they can answer questions about them from their classmates
Artwork: your pupils could create portraits of the women they have researched. Their artwork could be shared with the school community, alongside information about the women.
Your pupils may wish to write newspaper articles, reporting the different ways their community is celebrating Black History Month, or maybe produce an opinion piece on the month.
Plan a celebration:
Your pupils could project manage and help plan a parade, party, or fair to share with your community and commemorate Black History Month.
Children can use creative writing to relate to this year’s theme. This approach can encourage empathy and understanding as they reflect their understanding of Black history.
There are many charities which support Black people in the UK, such as Stop Hate UK and Black Minds Matter. You could research charities and organise fundraising initiatives, such as a bake sale, to raise funds for the charity of your choice.
Some additional useful websites and resources
For further information on Black History Month
Black History Month: https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/
The British government’s outline of how Black History Month is taught in schools: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2022/10/03/black-history-month-how-black-history-is-taught-in-our-schools-2/
Some child-friendly books
Little People, Big Dreams by Maya Angelou
Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Speak Up! by Nathan Bryon
Black and British by David Olusoga