Black History Month Resources: Approaches, Identities, Histories, Legacies & Inclusion

Posted by Facing History and Ourselves Canada office staff on January 28, 2021

This blog post outlines resources to use throughout Black History Month in February and beyond. This is by no means a comprehensive list (we continue to add to it as we discover new resources), but a list of resources that can be part of a professional and classroom journey that excites us to learn more, unites us in our common humanity and empowers students to champion a more equitable, compassionate, and informed tomorrow.

Part 1: Approaches and Mindsets

These on-demand webinars and resources have informed our learning on how to approach topics with culturally responsive and reflective pedagogy at the centre.

  • The words of abolitionist educator Bettina Love:“there has to be love & strength & resilience” when teaching about difficult hist to ensure a full picture of the humanity of any group of people & that there can be pride in identity.

  • Dr. Clint Smith reminds us that we honor our student when we give them full complexity of history. We can teach about resistance and strength while acknowledging the inhumane systems that Black people have had to overcome and still have to overcome on a daily basis.

  • Dr. Daren Graves & Dr. Scott Seider helped inform our learning on how to approach topics with care & reflective practices. These pedagogical approaches empower educators and students to analyze, navigate and challenge racial injustice In talking about the tension that exists within critical consciousness, we need students to understand historical context and systems of oppression and also acknowledge Black identities, Black resistance, Black contributions and Black excellence.

  • What happens when we support and empower students to bring history and identity into our school community? Where do you see opportunities to invite students to inquiry and co-planning into the curriculum? 

  • Celebrating Black History Month is important but to create inclusive education spaces means incorporating Black histories, voices, and perspectives in every class, year round. Thank you to Pamela Donaldson, Associate Director of Equity and Inclusion at Facing History and Ourselves, for working on this with us:

Black History IsIsnt (2)


Part 2: Exploring Black Identity and Voice & Black Joy

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  • Read about how Julius Lester defied others’ expectations on his journey toward understanding & defining his identity through discovering his voice in a book of haiku. How might we limit the way we think of identity? How can we challenge stereotypes?

  • New York-based artist, Glenn Ligon, uses art to address the social constructs of race, language, sexuality & gender. Pair with the analyzing images, or Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World with this thought provoking series to invite students to think about the factors that affect identity.

  • What is the story of your name? In "Say My Name", poet Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi bears witness to the dignity of her name and Black, Indigenous, Pasifika, and West Asian heritage. Pair this poem with this lesson where students explore the relationship between names and identities.

  • Chimamanda Adichie is a Nigerian writer who describes the effects that labels can have on how we think about ourselves and others in "The Danger of a Single Story". How can we challenge the single stories within ourselves & plan our courses with a balance of stories?

  • What Does it Mean to be Black and Alive Right Now? Curator Kimberly Drew and New York Times Magazine staff writer Jenna Wortham attempt to answer this question in this new book through memes, zines, recipes, poems, lyrics, academic studies, photography and more. How might students encounter this text, then curate a response to the question for themselves: What does it mean to be X and alive right now?

  • Read the works of poet Afua Cooper, one of Canada's most versatile poets of Afro-Caribbean origin. How does her voice connect, extend, or challenge students understanding of Black history in Canada, internalized racism and identity affirmation?  

  • Are you looking for ways to integrate Black Canadian history into your classroom? Natalie Steele, Ontario educator, outlines 4 free virtual resources to assist in enriching your existing history and social science lessons.

  • Explore the National Film Board of Canada's collection of films by distinguished Black creators that portray the multi-layered lives of Can's diverse Black communities & showcase stories of strength & perseverance in the face of adversity that are often not found in history books

Part 3: Black Canadian History in Chronological Order

George Elliot Clarke, Canadian poet, novelist, playwright and critic reminds us:

"Knowledge of history is dangerous.

Knowledge of history is radical.

You understand history and no one can lie to you."

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  • Black history in Canada began between 1600-1610, yet Black history comprises only 5% of some history texts. How will you create necessary space to learn about Black experience, contributions and achievements & discuss the largely untold histories of resistance? In this video, Ontario Black History Society blacked out all of the non-Black history from a 255-page history textbook. Only 13 pages remained.  

"When I think about the past, my concern about not remembering it, is not that we will repeat it if we don't remember it.  My concern - my fear - is that when we don't remember the past, we will continue it.  We will continue the things that created inequality and injustice in the first place.  What we must do is we must disrupt the continuum of hard history.  And we can do this by seeking truth.  By confronting hard history directly... children [need to] understand where we have come from as a nation.  And finally, we must all act on truth, individually, and collectively. Publicly and privately.  In small ways, and in large ways.  We must do the things that will bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice. To do nothing is to be complicit in inequality. "

- Hasan Kwame Jeffries, TEDX Ohio State University


Part 4: Legacy, Memory and Memorials

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How do we remember and commemorate Black excellence and Black struggle in Canada? 

Part 5: Standing Up for Justice, Equity and Inclusion 

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  • How the members of a group, a nation, or a community define who belongs and who does not has a lot to do with how they define their universe of obligation. Start a conversation with students about universe of obligation: Who is included in Canada’s? In ours?

  • Hear from educator Natalie Steele as she reflects on her experiences as a Black female educator and shares her first encounter with discrimination at school in hopes that educators understand the impact that assumptions made on the basis of skin tone can have on individuals.

  • Robyn Maynard's book Policing Black Lives traces the violent realities of anti-Blackness from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond. This is the 1st comprehensive account of 400+ years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canada.

  • This streamable documentary follows  journalist Desmond Cole as he researches for his book The Skin We're In and pulls back the curtain on racism in Canada. The Skin We're In describes the systemic injustices and disadvantages faced by all Black people living in white-dominated societies. How can the staff at your school use this documentary to foster important discussion and action?

  • David Chariandy's I've Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to my Daughter: "In sharing with his daughter his own story of "race," he hopes to help cultivate within her, as a child of black, brown and white ancestry, a sense of identity and responsibility that balances the painful truths of the past & present with hopeful possibilities for a more equitable and just future." 

Are any of your go-to resources missing from this list? If so, please share them in the comments or share them with us on Twitter @FacingCanada.

Topics: Canadian History, Black History, Equity in Education, anti-racism, Black History Month


This is where Canadian Facing History and Ourselves teachers and community members meet to share reflections, scholarship and teaching practices that will inspire, challenge and improve teaching and student learning. Our stories provide a window into diverse Facing History classrooms in Canada, and invite you into the discussion.

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