February 1st begins African American Heritage Month here in the US and we have 6 African American historical figures you NEED to meet as you celebrate African American Heritage Month!
While I think we can all agree that we should study folks of all ethnic backgrounds all year round in our homeschool history lessons and classrooms, it is still fun to take a month to take a little extra time to meet someone new from our history and learn about their contributions to it!
For this list, I've included 6 African Americans we've covered with our Heritage Letters so far. That way if you need our help making learning about one or all of these 6 amazing American historical figures for Black History Month, we can do that for you super easy by dropping a letter from them in the mail to you or sending you their letters digitally if you prefer that option. And we have FREE lesson plans and FREE printables for these historical figures too! You can find a collection of ALL of our Black History Heritage Letters, lesson plans, and free downloads in one handy place.
In addition to our letters, I'm including with this post our absolute favorite book on each person to help give you a good starting point for your homeschool history lessons!
1. George Washington Carver
Scientist, teacher, gardener, and the KING of all things related to peanuts. You will LOVE learning all about this brilliant man who was a true pathfinder in plant education!
Our favorite book about George Washington Carver is In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grisby
2. Louis Armstrong
You'll be jazzed to learn all about the great musician who will have youl be singing "Hello Dolly!" and "What a Wonderful World" in no time as you learn all about the life and legacy of Louis Armstrong!
Let us help you learn about Louis Armstrong with our Louis Armstrong Heritage Letter!
Our favorite book about Louis Armstrong is Just a Lucky So and So by Lesa Cline-Ransome
3. Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker...astronomer, almanac writer, scientist, and more! Meet this truly spectacular African American and learn all about his discoveries. You'll be amazed by all he accomplished in his life!
Let us help you learn all about Benjamin Banneker with our Benjamin Banneker Heritage Letter, Lesson Plans, and Free Printables! If your kids love to tinker with everything and are always learning and designing new inventions, Benjamin Banneker will soon become a household favorite friend!
Our favorite book about Benjamin Banneker is Tick Tock Banneker's Clock by Shana Keller
4. Phillis Wheatley
Meet the young African American poet who amazed both colonial and British audiences with her poetry! If your children enjoy poetry tea time, Phillis Wheatley will be a lovely addition to your poetry studies!
You can find our Heritage Letter from Phillis Wheatley HERE! Be sure to check out our Free Printables for Phillis Wheatley, including many works of her poetry. Our lesson plans post for her also contains a few videos you'll want to watch!
For a delightful book on Phillis Wheatley, check out Phillis Sings Out Freedom: The Story of George Washington and Phillis Wheatley by Ann Malaspina
5. James Armistead Lafayette
Meet this remarkable slave turned Revolutionary War spy for the Marquis de Lafayette and the French forces helping the Patriots win our freedom. James Armistead Lafayette was actually a double-agent...spying on the British while they thought he was helping them spy on the Patriots!
Learn more about James's story and how he helped the colonies win their freedom from Britain then secured his own freedom as well. This is one African American in our history that you NEED to meet!
Our favorite book about James Armistead Lafayette is A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent by Anne Rockwell
6. Booker T. Washington
I can't pick a favorite from this list, because we have loved learning about each of them for different reasons, but learning about the life of Booker T. Washington and reading his biography Up from Slavery has captivated me and helped me understand him and the culture of the freed people of the late 1800s better than anything else I've read to date.
Washington's focus on his own education and helping others gain one led to an amazing life full of challenges and great accomplishments. If you're looking for an African American from US history to help inspire your students to greatness and to help them understand the value of education, Booker T. Washington is the man you need to study!You can find our Heritage Letter from Booker T. Washington HERE! Be sure to check out our Free Unit Study on Washington's life too.
For a delightful book on Booker T. Washington for younger students check out With Books and Bricks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell and for high schoolers or adults, read about him from his own words in Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
And so many more!
I know I've hardly scratched the surface of all of the amazing African American historical figures you could study, but I hope this list gets you off to a great start as you celebrate the contributions of these amazing people by learning about their lives and how they helped make America a better place! Thank you for celebrating African American Heritage Month with us!
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