We are excited to introduce Angie, a first-grade teacher, to share Black History, Culture, and Heritage affirmations that her students came up with to honor Black History Month here in the United States for the month of February. She also shares a list of books to honor the achievements and contributions of African American people. Angie’s story reminds us of the wisdom of our children and what difference it makes when they are involved in learning about mindfulness and the diversity of the world. Please join me in giving Angie a warm welcome.
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I believe in the power of mindfulness, as well as teaching neuroscience and growth mindset as part of doing social justice and anti-racism work.
This year, our district made a commitment to being anti-racist and implementing an Anti-Racist Curriculum. Our language arts department has been building curriculum around the Gholdy Muhammed Framework: Cultivating Genius. Here’s a link to an interview.
Our curriculum is a social justice curriculum, and I make sure that the literature I engage my students in reflects diversity, addresses issues of social justice and racism, and lifts up Black lives, history, culture and heritage, as well as those of each and every student.
I teach first grade at Sherman Elementary School (note that school is in the process of being renamed because the school was named after General Sherman, a self-admitted racist) in the San Francisco Unified School District.
If you were to visit my class, you would see beautiful scholars from many parts of the world: India, Iraq, United States, Mexico, China, Eritrea, Uzbekistan, Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Morocco, Egypt, Nicaragua, and Iceland—all colors of the rainbow!
I integrate mindfulness practice and affirmations as part of our daily routine, and the district implements restorative practices and the 2nd Step Curriculum. Self-care is caring for others. In order for us to transform and disrupt systemic oppression, there is a need to prioritize a balanced curriculum that focuses on the whole child, compassion, and humanity.
Here’s what the kids came up with as affirmations:
Black History, Culture, and Heritage Affirmations
I am strong.
I am brave.
I am justice.
I can make a difference.
I am resilient.
I am love and compassion.
We practice yoga poses and then say the affirmations. I post the affirmations on a Google Slide (like the one below). We are distance learning, so we do this all online together by unmuting our speakers and whispering the affirmations.
Books to Honor Black History Month
Below you will also find some of our favorite books to share during Black History Month:
Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas
by Gwendolyn Hooks and Colin Bootman
No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas
by Tonya Bolden and Don Tate
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman
Ruth and the Green Book
by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Gwen Strauss
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
by Carole Boston Weatherford and Ekua Holmes
The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just
by Melina Mangal and Luisa Uribe
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and R. Gregory Christie
Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present
By Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins
Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali
by Charles Smith and Bryan Collier
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
By Vashti Harrison
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
By Walter Dean Myers
Ticktock Banneker’s Clock
By Shana Keller and David Gardner
Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins (Who Did It First?)
By Michelle Meadows and Ebony Glen
Mae Among the Stars
By Roda Ahmed and Stasis Burrington
The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
By Hasan Davis and Alleanna Harris
Black is a Rainbow Color
By Angela Joy and Ekua Holmes
How are you honoring Black History Month in your classroom? Please share below—we would love to hear your ideas!