African American History: Activity Pack

African American History: Breaking Barriers


Understanding the history of African Americans is crucial to understanding the history of America. The experiences of African Americans have shaped many aspects of the United States. These lesson plans are based on History Detectives episodes that examine artifacts from three distinct eras in American history: the Civil War, World War I and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.


Lesson Plans

Climbing the Wall: Documenting African-American Genealogy

Students learn about how the life of an enslaved person changed from the Antebellum period through Emancipation, then analyze primary source documents in order to create a timeline of an individual slave’s life.

Honored as Heroes: Analyzing the Role of Race in World War I

 Students learn about two African-American World War I heroes and analyze period propaganda posters to understand how racial relations were shifting during World War I. They then write letters from the perspective of African-American soldiers or their family members.

Lunch Counter Closed: Examining the Strategies of the Civil Rights Movement

 Students examine period images and news footage in order to learn about the use of sit-ins and nonviolence in the Civil Rights Movement and analyze the effectiveness of strategies of the Civil Rights Movement. Then then write newspaper articles


Related Reproducibles



These lessons are aligned to the Common Core Standards for History/Social Studies and the National Standards for History.