Black History Month
A selection of our favourite books and artefacts to celebrate Black History Month for the whole school.
This book tells the story of the life of Mary Seacole, a nurse who, alongside Florence Nightingale, treated soldiers during the Crimean War. Whilst her service during the war is what she is best remembered for, this book tells her story nursing throughout her life, in Jamaica, Panama and Britain. Her story had long been forgotten, however in 2004 she was named greatest black Briton’, showing how important she had been.
Telling in scrapbook form the inspiration life of Walter Tull. Orphaned at 9, Walter became the first black British outfield football player, playing for Clapton, Tottenham Hotspurs and Northampton town. After the outbreak of the WWI in 1914 he joined the army and in 1917 became the first black officer in the British army, as well as being recommended for the military cross. He was killed in 1918 during the German spring offensive, just months from the end of the war.
This book charts the incredible life of Bessie Coleman, the first black woman pilot in the early and dangerous days of early flight. Through her struggles growing up in a segregated early 20th century America, to gaining her pilots licence in France, and finally her tragic death in an accident in 1926. This book tells the story of a woman who dreamt of flying and is honoured to this day for her achievements.
This hollow metal sculpture of the head and shoulders of an African woman is a replica of a Queen Mother Benin bronze. Black History Month is a good time to look at Benin as part of AD900 history topics. Find out more about this artefact on www.objectlessons.org
This is a Makonde 'Tree of Life'sculpture from Tanzania, made out of African blackwood. It represents human figures climbing up and holding onto each other, showing families supporting each other across generations. Carvings are often several metres in height, and are almost always made from a single piece of wood. You could do a lovely family tree art project in this style. Find out more about this object on our website www.objectlessons.org
This red beaded hat comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. It has been made by the Pende people and is usually worn by a chief. Two horns stick out either side of the hat, and point forward. These are in imitation of buffalo horns and refer to the chief's authority - the chief is expected to be strong and powerful. Find out more on our website www.objectlessons.org
We have over 7,000 costumes here at ELS including many from African countries. A costume makes a great feature in a display and there is lots you can talk about. The Nigerian man's costume shown here is the ASO-OKE, the traditional costume of the Yoruba. Aso-oke cloth is woven on narrow looms, most notably in Oyo State and Kogi State. Find out more on our website www.objectlessons.org
The Diary of a Young West Indian Immigrant by Trish Cooke Trish Cooke tells the story of a young woman and her family’s immigration from Dominica to England in the 1960s. By using the diary format, the author is able to capture the uncertainty and personal viewpoint of moving to a country with very different culture, climate and attitudes.
Ruby Bridges was the first child to attend a previously segregated school in the American South. The protests and prejudice she encountered was one of the turning points for the civil rights movement. In this book she tells her story with grace and dignity using contemporary photographs and quotations to illustrate her narrative.
A picture book about one of the black cowboys of the American West. Pinkney’s illustrations have so much movement and tension and perfectly complement Julius Lester’s evocative prose.
We have our own Desmond Tutu doll - a fair trade toy made by a women’s group in Khayelitsha, on the Cape Flats just outside the city of Cape Town. You can find out more about this artefact on our website www.objectlessons.org
A picture book set in South Africa during Apartheid about prejudice and forgiveness. The Desmond in the story is Archbishop Tutu himself and in this book he draws on his childhood experiences to show how words can both hurt and heal.
Significant figures of from black American civil rights history are illustrated by a selection of well-known black artists. The text is simple and clean but it’s the illustrations that tell most of the story.
A lively rhyming storybook about tap dancer, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson who was the highest paid black entertainer during the 1930s. The text has a refrain that children will love to chant aloud and the illustrations are a perfect complement. You can borrow a bowler hat and tap shoes too!