The Classroom

Black History Is Our History

Lima Abdullah and Evelyn Quezada
Jan 31, 2021

Resistance. Liberation. Trailblazing. Joy. 

Our approach to Black History Month is rooted in offering empowering narratives to the nation’s students centered on these principles that are at the core of the American experience.  

The events of last year were a crucible moment, and served as a catalyst for a historic shift and broader racial and cultural awareness and activism.

History is not stagnant; it is ever evolving — and the nation’s students are living and shaping this draft of history. At Newsela, we are committed to helping students understand how our collective histories are intertwined.

Instructional content choices empower students to re-draw throughlines to the struggles, uplift and narratives of the past, and make connections to their own lives and experiences. Engaging in this critical work will equip students to craft a better future. 

In our upcoming Black History Month series:

We trace the evolution of revolution from the first documented uprising of enslaved Africans in the Americas in the 1500s to the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer of 2020. 

We'll help students make the connection between the liberation efforts of journalist and abolitionist Ida B. Wells and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth in the 1800s to the inauguration last month of the first Black, female, and South Asian U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. 

We'll celebrate the elevation of a brilliant young poet, Amanda Gorman, who recited during last month’s inauguration, and guide students through understanding that she is part of a literary continuum that stretches back to the works of Phillis Wheatley in the 1700s.      

Paired lesson plans offer student choice through a variety of activities: through media literacy image analysis, students can examine the power of imagery in our understanding of history, and apply a critical lens to the origins of these sources. With discussion prompts, students can think critically about their views. There are resources for research projects that challenge students to find multiple sources to support their claims. Students also have the option to craft timely posts that require them to develop an opinion on a contemporary event, and use evidence to support their responses. Lastly, paired social-emotional learning resources help students break down and process the content while making connections to themselves. 

All of this is in an effort to ensure students are challenged and invited to contribute to the conversation by making connections to events in the past and what they are living through in this moment.  

Newsela’s mission to provide meaningful classroom learning for every student requires that students see their rich cultures and multifaceted identities reflected in their instructional content. Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) students need to be represented, celebrated, seen and heard every day, with their histories and experiences presented as an integral part of the American experience. 

By stating Black history is our history, we commit to centering these narratives year round — honoring the past, and inspiring the future.

Lima Abdullah, Executive Editor of News and Social Studies at Newsela

Evelyn Quezada, Content Manager at Newsela

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