Posted February 16, 2021
Teaching Inclusive History, Identity and Civics
Black History Month is a reminder to stop and think about all the many ways Black people have contributed to the history of this country. The National Council for the Social Studies has put together a very interesting list of resources to explore this rich history with your students.
However, here at Ohio History Connection we try to embed this sentiment in everything we do. We don’t think these contributions should be highlighted in just one month. The history of Black people in the U.S. is U.S. history. It should not be segmented out into one month. So when we teach about voting and the elections, we should take a moment to teach about Ida B. Wells-Barnett. When we are analyzing the legislative branch we could use the Senate motion that broke a 55-day filibuster against the Civil Right Act as a case study.
There are so many ways we can incorporate Black History in all aspects of the social studies curriculum. The same goes for other minority groups such as American Indians, Asian Americans, the LatinX community, New Americans, the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities, among many others. Not to mention that these groups intersect with one another. One person can identify oneself as part of several of these communities at the same time. That’s why we think that a great way to start your journey in inclusive history is through discussing identity and the labels we use to identify ourselves and others.
Here you will find a suggested activity to tackle this with your students. In this activity, students review the Census’ background information data to reflect on how identity is important for social groups and individuals, and that identity terminology is fluid and changes over time.
Teaching inclusive history is not easy or simple but it’s a formidable and rewarding endeavor. By telling stories through multiple lenses and perspectives we are also helping students to see themselves as active participants of history. When we tell stories that resonate with them because they see themselves reflected in a historical figure or in a particular circumstance and environment, it makes history more relevant for them as individuals.