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Black History Month

Black History Month Student Essay Contest

Ohio fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students are invited to participate in the Ohio Education Association’s eighth annual Black History Month Essay contest.

Contest essays must be written on the topic,

What does freedom mean to me as we honor Black History Month?

The essay contest offers students, throughout the state, the opportunity to learn more about African-American contributions and the achievement of freedom against many odds. It also showcases the creativity of the students and rewards them for their knowledge and talent.

The student author of the winning essay will receive $50, an educational book on famous Black Americans, and gifts for his or her classroom.

  • Entries must be emailed to by 4 p.m. Friday, January 16, 2016.
  • Each student may enter one essay no longer than 250 words in length. Essay must consist largely of material that is in the student’s own words.
  • Essays submitted must include: contestant’s name, home address, home telephone number, school, teacher’s name, grade level, school district and title of the essay.
  • The Ohio Education Association will select the winning essay.
  • All essays become the property of the OEA.
  • The winning essay may be used in various promotions by OEA, including radio advertisements and recognition of winner and essay.

Black History Month Resources

Begun in 1926 by Black scholar and historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month was originally celebrated as a weeklong event. In 1976, Congress expanded the observance to the entire month of February.

To help you integrate African-American culture and history into your curriculum, we offer a selection of resources, activities and lesson plans that cover a variety of grade levels.


Lesson Plans

America I Am
Students in grades 5-12 participate in lessons and activities as a history unit or as part of social studies, economics, math, art, and literature curricula. This Black History Month curriculum is presented with support from the National Education Association.

Musical Harlem
Students in grades K-4 listen to jazz audio clips to learn to identify styles and musicians associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

African American Scientists and Inventors
Students in grades K-12 learn about and celebrate the contributions of African American scientists using a link from this page to The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences.

A Jazz History
Students in grades 3-8 listen to ragtime and jazz and explore the historical events of the years jazz developed.

Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series: Removing the Mask
Students in grades 6-8 analyze and compare visual and poetic works by Jacob Lawrence, Helene Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar and consider how they represent changing roles of African Americans.

The Poet's Voice: Langston Hughes and You
Students in grades 6-8 investigate “voice” in Hughes’s poetry, develop their own distinctive voices in journal entries, and write an original poem or critical essay on an aspect of Hughes’s poetic voice.

The Illusion of Race
Students in grades 6-8 investigate both genetic and societal consequences of the often-artificial and evolving classifications of race and ethnicity. Student and teacher materials are included.

Variation in Human Skin Color
Students in grades 9-12 explore factors controlling human skin color variation and how perceived racial differences affect human society. Student and teacher materials are included.

African American English
In this unit, students in grades 9-12 examine several hypotheses about the development of African American English (AAE), consider how AAE has been treated in schools, and analyze the influential role of AAE in modern culture and society.

African-American Poets of the Last Century
In this week-long unit, students in grades 10-12 explore 20th century African American poetry, develop strategies for reading and responding to poetry, and prepare an oral presentation on a favorite African American poet.

The Invisible Man
Students in grades 11-12 read Ralph Ellison’s novel to explore the theme of invisibility in the book, in their own lives, and in their communities.


Culture & Change: Black History in America
Students in grades 3-4 can read about Rosa Parks, Melba Pattillo, and ten African American men and women and their inventions. They can view an interview with author Christopher Paul Curtis and listen to a history of jazz with Wynton Marsalis, and take a virtual journey on the Underground Railroad.

Notable African Americans from the 18th-century to the present
In this Jeopardy-type quiz game students in grades 5-12 can choose from three levels of difficulty to test their knowledge of famous African Americans. Spelling counts, for example Billy Holiday rather than Billie Holiday would be marked incorrect.

The Underground Railroad
Students make decisions as they follow Harriet Tubman and escape from a slave owner in this online interactive.

Jazz: PBS Kids
Students can learn about jazz, meet famous jazz musicians, join a jazz band, become the band leader in these online activities. The site includes an interactive timeline and K-5 lesson plans for teachers.

Black History Month: Activities
K-12 activities.


2014 BHM essay contest winner ad
2014 BHM essay contest winner ad


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