Beyond the Textbook: Black History-Makers You Won’t Learn About in School

Welcome!

“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.”—Maya Angelou

February may have ignited your interest in Black history and you may want to continue to learn about Black historical figures and stories throughout the rest of the year. At XQ, we believe in celebrating Black history year-round. To start, we want to introduce you to figures you might not have heard of but who’ve contributed to the rich history of Black achievements. More importantly, we want to help you reflect on what you learned about these unsung heroes and identify similarities in your own family history. You’ll be able to look into history all around you—in your community, in your home, or in your family—and define your own “Unsung Heroes.”

We can all play a role in amplifying the stories of Black American heroes, known and unknown. Even better, we don’t have to box this responsibility into the four weeks that make up February. We need to advocate for our educators to teach Black history, August to May. While advocacy may look different for educators, community members, and students, it’s important to demand that curricula expand to meet the needs of a more diverse student body. Representation matters and racial inclusion in lessons plans infuse equity into every nook of curricula. Even small, individual actions on small scales can help create structural change and create a more equitable school system for all. Here are some ways you can advocate to expand Black history education past February.

  • Students: Take the online course and share this badge with your teacher, friends, and classmates. Maybe you can take initiative and look ahead in your syllabus and find places to uplift not just the stories of Black Americans but the stories of other historically underrepresented groups.
  • Educators: Share this badge with your networks, get creative with your curriculum, and look for opportunities to expand your lessons plans to include Black history year-round. A great way to start is to dive into your syllabus, and determine where you can include Black authors, mathematicians, sciences, activists, and historians.

Don’t stop there—join the discussion on diversifying history lesson plans and curriculum in the “Discuss” section of Rethink Together. Share with other students, educators and community members about the need to teach Black history every day, Remember the legacy of Black Americans extends beyond history, so be sure to think of how you can bring inclusion into all of our classes. Let’s rethink the way we do curriculum, together.

Let the celebration, discovery, and inspiration begin!

Whether here or there, then or now, tomorrow or forever—Black Americans continue to rise. From “the most searched,” to “the most decorated,” to “the greatest of all-time,” to “the first of their kind,” we can look deeply in our communities to increase our appreciation of Black culture. Bring your new-found knowledge back to the classroom and ask your teachers to include the voices of Black Americans all year long.

Earn a Badge

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Black History-Makers Badge

Show how you amplified unsung heroes by submitting your Unsung Hero project to our XQ Project Gallery, earning the badge for this learning experience. Earn your badge today and learn to see the world through the achievements of unsung heroes. Students, share this badge with your teachers and advocate for Black history, year round. Teachers, challenge your students to look at Black history in their own communities and within their families to celebrate everyday unsung heroes.

STEPS TO “SINGING” ABOUT UNSUNG HEROES :

  • Learn about individuals who supported and worked alongside historical figures you already know.
  • Explore how the courage of lesser-known individuals placed them ahead of their time and understand why we forgot their stories over time.  
  • Design an Unsung Heroes project inspired by your new cultural knowledge and illuminate a forgotten figure either in history, in your family, or in your community. 
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  1. Hey! XQ should set up a process to write a new textbook for American History…