The school board of miami-dade county, florida

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Black History Month 2018
Theme: “African Americans in Times of War”

Background Information, Lesson Plans, and Internet Resources for the Secondary Classroom

Department of Social Sciences

Miami-Dade County Public Schools

February 2018 (Revised)

Ms. Perla Tabares Hantman, Chair

Dr. Martin Karp, Vice Chair

Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall

Ms. Susie V. Castillo

Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman

Dr. Steve Gallon III

Ms. Lubby Navarro

Dr. Marta Pérez

Ms. Mari Tere Rojas

Bryce Febres

Student Advisor

Mr. Alberto M. Carvalho

Superintendent of Schools

Mrs. Maria L. Izquierdo, Chief Academic Officer

Office of Academics and Transformation

Ms. Lisette M. Alves, Assistant Superintendent

Division of Academics

Mr. Robert C. Brazofsky, Executive Director

Department of Social Sciences

Introduction and an Instructional Note to Teachers about Black History Month

The purpose of Black History Month (also known as African American History Month) is to recognize and commemorate the many cultural, social, spiritual, political, and economic contributions made by African Americans to the United States. However, in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, African American history is more than a topic to be studied only in February. Rather, it is a topic of substance that is woven into all subjects throughout the school year. Black History Month provides schools with additional opportunities to emphasize and celebrate African American history in all of Miami-Dade County’s public schools.

The 2018 Black History Month theme is “African Americans in Times of War.” An overview of the theme is provided in this instructional resource guide.

To assist schools, staff in the Department of Social Sciences has developed this instructional resource guide that includes background information, suggested classroom activities, and Internet resources for Black History Month, including resources to support this year’s theme. These resources are intended to serve as tools to support both the month’s commemoration and the instructional requirements of Florida Statute 1003.421 requiring the study of the African American experience in the United States. Resources in this guide include:

  • BACKGROUND INFORMATION - This section includes detailed background and reference information to support Black History Month, including this year’s theme.

  • LESSONS, ACTIVITIES, AND STRATEGIES FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS - Detailed lesson plans with all support materials needed to support instruction during Black History Month are provided in this section of the guide. These lessons are also applicable throughout the curriculum and school year.

  • INTERNET RESOURCES - Related lesson plans, teacher background information, interactive activities, and downloadable worksheets may be found on the web sites listed in this section of the guide.

  • SECONDARY CHARACTER EDUCATION RESOURCES – Additional lesson ideas are included to support the core value of “kindness,” which has been designated by the District for the month of February.

Teachers are highly encouraged to utilize the resources and lessons found in this instructional resource guide whenever appropriate throughout the school year. Teachers are further encouraged to select and adapt the resources and lessons to best fit the needs of their students.

Special Programs and Activities for Black History Month

The Department of Social Sciences is sponsoring or co-sponsoring the following special programs and activities during Black History Month. Full details and the dates of the events are provided to all schools through Weekly Briefings.

41st Annual Theodore Gibson Oratorical Competition - Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in cooperation with Miami Dade College, is co-sponsoring the 41st Annual Theodore Gibson Oratorical Competition for elementary and secondary students. The competition exposes students to a breadth of writings about the African American experience and provides them with the opportunity to refine their research, writing, and public speaking skills through a challenging competition. The final competition will be held in May 2018.

The 28th Annual African American Read-In Chain - The 28th Annual African American Read-in Chain is scheduled each Monday during the month of February 2018. On these days, schools are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month as they select books authored by African Americans and host school Read-Ins. A completed African American Read-In school report card from each participating school is submitted to the Department of Social Sciences. The African American Read-In Chain has been endorsed by the International Reading Association. Reporting forms are currently available on the Department of Social Sciences website at

The Black History Month Elementary and Secondary Essay Contest - To support the National Black History Month theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” and the District’s reading and writing initiatives, the Department of Social Sciences, in cooperation with community organizations, is again sponsoring a Black History Month Essay Contest. This contest is open to elementary, middle, and senior high school students.

The 29th Annual Black History Culture & Brain Bowl – This annual competition is held in February and is sponsored by Florida International University.

Professional Development – Professional development opportunities to support Black History Month will be provided in February for classroom teachers at the historic Lyric Theatre, as well as for the African American Advocates at Florida International University.

K-12 African American Voices Curricular Materials – In addition to the Black History Month resources found in this resource guide, African American Voices, a curriculum guide developed by the Department of Social Sciences, is available on the Department’s website at

For further information on these special programs and activities, please contact Dr. Sherrilyn Scott, Supervisor, Department of Social Sciences, at .

Background Information

Resources to Support the 2018 Theme – “African Americans in Times of War”:

  • 2018 Black History Month Theme – “African Americans in Times of War”

  • Suggested Websites - African Americans in the U.S. Military

  • African Americans in the U.S. Military – A Tradition of Distinguished Service

  • Desegregating the U.S. Military – Executive Order 9981

  • Timeline – African Americans in the U.S. Military

  • Notable African Americans in the U.S. Military

Other Resources:

  • Biography of Dr. Carter G. Woodson – The Father of Black History Month

  • The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

  • An Overview of African American History – World Book Encyclopedia (Advanced)

  • African American History Timeline (1619-2009)

  • Civil Rights Timeline – Milestones in the Modern Civil Rights Movement

  • Notable African Americans

  • Black History Month - Teaching About Ethnic and Cultural History

2018 Black History Month Theme –

African Americans in Times of War”

ASALAH and Dr. Carter G. Woodson

The Association of African American Life and History (ASALAH) was founded in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The mission of ASALH is to promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history, and culture to the global community.

Known as the “Father of Black History,” Dr. Woodson (1875-1950) was the son of former slaves, and understood how important gaining a proper education is when striving to secure and make the most out of one’s right of freedom. Although he did not begin his formal education until he was nearly 20 years old, his dedication to study enabled him to earn a high school diploma in West Virginia and bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago in just a few years. In 1912, Woodson became the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, this celebration was expanded to include the entire month of February. Each year, ASALAH develops the annual Black History Month theme. A description of this year’s theme follows.

2018 Theme - “African Americans in Times of War”

“The 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” which commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918 and explores the complex meanings and implications of this global struggle. The First World War was termed initially by many as “The Great War,” “the war to end all wars,” and the war “to make the world safe for democracy,” those very concepts provide a broad, useful framework for focusing on African Americans during multiple wars from the Revolutionary War Era to that of the present War against Terrorism. Times of War must inevitably provide the framework for many stories related to African American soldiers, veterans, and civilians. This is a theme filled with paradoxes of valor and defeat, of civil rights opportunities and setbacks, of struggles abroad and at home, of artistic creativity and repression, and of catastrophic loss of life and the righteous hope for peace.

The theme suggests that contemporary conditions are cause for critical pause in considerations and studies. These issues include: opportunities for advancement and repression during wartime, the roles of civil rights and Black liberation organizations in the struggle abroad and at home; African American businesses, women, religious institutions, the Black press; the struggle to integrate the military; experiences in the military during segregation/apartheid and integration; health development; migration and urban development; educational opportunities; veterans experiences once they returned home; how Black soldiers and/veterans are documented and memorialized within public and private spaces; the creation of African American Veteran of Foreign War posts, cultures and aesthetics of dissent; global/international discourse; impact and influence of the Pan African Congress, the Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party; and the topographies and spaces of Black soldiers’ rebellion. These diverse stories reveal war’s impact not only on men and women in uniform but on the larger African American community.”


Suggested Websites – African Americans in the U.S. Military

Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum – This site offers a detailed accounting of the role African American women played in military life from Colonial times to the present., “African Americans in the Military – This encyclopedia article provides an overview of the U.S. military service provided by African Americans from colonial times to the present.
National Archives, African Americans in the U.S. Military - This listing of websites from the National Archives provides numerous links to articles and lesson plans on the role African Americans have played in the U.S. military.
National Association of American Veterans - Learn more about the accomplishments, achievements, and struggles African American service members have conquered while serving our country through the links provided at this site.
National Museum of African American History and Culture – This Smithsonian museum site provides an examination of the African American military experience through its exhibit entitled, “Double Victory.”
U.S. Department of Defense Archival Site on African Americans in the U.S. Military - This archival site includes links to articles on African Americans in the U.S. military, including articles on the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee airmen, and the Red Ball Express.
U.S. Department of Defense 2017 African American History Month Site – This site provides articles, videos, and personal stories regarding the African American men and women who have served in the U.S. military.

African Americans in the U.S. Military – A Tradition of Distinguished Service

Adapted from an article by Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service, 2007

African Americans have a long tradition of honorable and distinguished service in America’s armed forces, going back 231 years to the nation’s birth -- and even before.
For example, Crispus Attucks was among a group of outraged colonists protesting English rule who died from British soldiers’ bullets during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. Two other people also were immediately killed, and two others died of their wounds as a result of the encounter.
Attucks’ name is the only one Americans commonly remember as among the victims of the shooting. A monument honoring him was placed on Boston Common in 1888.
Five years after the Boston Massacre, Peter Salem was among many African Americans who fought with other American colonists against the British over possession of Breed’s Hill outside Boston. Commonly and mistakenly known as the “Battle of Bunker Hill,” the engagement was fought on June 17, 1775. It was one of the first military engagements of the Revolution.
Salem survived that battle and mortally wounded the British commander who led the fourth and last charge that secured the hill. Salem was commended for his enterprise and courage at Breed’s Hill and during subsequent engagements. On a citation signed by 14 senior officers, he was described as “a brave and gallant soldier” who “behaved like an experienced officer.”
It’s estimated that 5,000 African Americans fought on the patriot side during the American Revolutionary War that spanned from 1775 to 1783.
About 180,000 African Americans wore Union blue and earned praise for their military skill during the American Civil War, fought 1861-1865.
Early in the war, U.S. government skepticism over African Americans’ fighting abilities had kept them mostly off the battlefield. That would change later in the war, when emerging manpower shortages coerced the Union to enlist thousands of African Americans troops for front-line duty.
Union soldiers of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Regiment achieved military respect on July 17, 1863, by routing a Confederate force after two hours of hard fighting at Honey Springs, in present-day Oklahoma.
“I never saw such fighting as was done by the Negro regiment,” Union Commander Gen. James G. Blunt wrote after the Honey Springs battle. “The question that Negroes will fight is settled. Besides, they make better soldiers in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command.”
African Americans troops fighting for the Union distinguished themselves again at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Va., which was fought on Sept. 29, 1864. After being pinned down by Confederate artillery fire for 30 minutes, the African Americans division of the U.S. 18th Corps charged the enemy’s earthworks and rushed up the surrounding slopes. The division suffered massive casualties during the hour-long engagement. Of the 25 African Americans who received the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, 14 were so honored as the result of their service at Chaffin’s Farm.
America expanded westward after the Civil War ended, and soldiers were needed to protect settlers and the railroads from Indian attacks. Although Lt. Col. George A. Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment is known for its fights against the Plains Indians, the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiments also gained fame for their exploits against the Indians, both on the plains and in the southwest.
Established in 1866, the 9th and 10th regiments were made up of African American enlisted soldiers who were usually commanded by white commissioned officers. The Indians respected the African American cavalrymen and called them “Buffalo Soldiers” for their fighting prowess.
Army Lt. Henry O. Flipper graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on June 14, 1877, the first African Americans to do so and the U.S. military’s first African Americans commissioned officer. Flipper was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, where he earned praise for his selfless, capable service. Yet later, Flipper was accused of embezzling government funds. He was tried and judged not guilty of embezzlement, but was dismissed from the service for misconduct in December 1881. After an inquiry, the Department of the Army cleared Flipper of all charges on Dec. 13, 1976, and he was honorably discharged.
During the course of the Indian Wars fought from 1866 to the early 1890s, 13 enlisted men and six officers from the 9th and 10th regiments and two African Americans infantry units earned the Medal of Honor.
During the Spanish-American War, African Americans soldiers with the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments fought alongside Lt. Col. Teddy Roosevelt and his volunteer unit of “Rough Riders,” and defeated Spanish troops at the Battles of Kettle Hill and San Juan Heights, Cuba, on July 1, 1898.
Five African Americans soldiers earned Medals of Honor for their heroism during the Spanish-American War. Many African Americans households proudly acquired prints featuring resolute, African Americans troops charging up San Juan Hill with Roosevelt and his volunteers.
African Americans troops again served with distinction during World War I, fought between 1914 and 1918. Although U.S. military units remained segregated by race, African Americans eagerly volunteered for military service following America’s entry into the conflict in April 1917. By the war’s end in November 1918, more than 350,000 African Americans had served with the American Expeditionary Force on the western front in Europe.
Soldiers with the U.S. 369th Infantry Regiment were known as the “Harlem Hellfighters” and served on the front lines for six months, longer than any other African Americans regiment in the war. They fought and won alongside the French against the Germans during the pitched battles at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood. The 369th’s documented exploits on the western front earned it world respect; 171 of its officers and men received the Legion of Merit. And members of the unit were the first Americans to be awarded the French Croix de Guerre for valor.
African Americans soldier Cpl. Freddie Stowers also heroically served with the U.S. 371st Infantry Regiment in France during World War I. Despite two wounds, Stowers continued to lead his men during an attack on German trenches on Sept. 28, 1918. The enemy positions were ultimately taken by the Americans. Stowers died from his wounds. He was recommended to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions, but the nomination paperwork was allegedly misplaced. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Stowers’ relatives in recognition of the corporal’s exploits in France 73 years before. Stowers became the only African Americans who served during World War I to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor.
America was again engaged in a global war after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. African Americans serviceman Navy Ship’s Cook 3rd Class Dorie Miller distinguished himself during the Pearl Harbor attack and won the Navy Cross. Miller voluntarily manned an anti-aircraft gun and shot down four Japanese planes, despite his lack of gunnery training.
During World War II, more than 1 million African Americans answered the nation’s call, despite the continuance of segregated units and discrimination. Civil rights leaders of that time saw military service as a way for African Americans to achieve long-denied rights and respect. African Americans served with distinction in units such as the 761st Tank Battalion, the 555th Infantry Parachute Battalion, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, and the 332nd Fighter Group. The 3rd Army’s march across Europe under Gen. George S. Patton after D-Day was facilitated by African Americans quartermaster troops who drove supply trucks for the “Red Ball Express.”
Benjamin O. Davis Sr. became the first African Americans general officer in the regular Army and the U.S. armed forces when he was promoted to brigadier general on Aug. 1, 1941. Davis was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his work as inspector of African Americans troop units during the war. In 1954, Davis’s son, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., would become the first African American general in the U.S. Air Force.
Yet, at first, there were no African Americans Medal of Honor recipients from World War II. After an Army study, that oversight was rectified on Jan. 13, 1997, when President Bill Clinton presented Medals of Honor to families of seven World War II-era African Americans servicemen. One, Army 1st Lt. Vernon Baker, was the only recipient still living and present to receive his award. The other six soldiers received their medals posthumously.
Near the end of World War II, an Army survey conducted in May and June of 1945 asked white officers and noncommissioned officers about the performance of about 2,500 African Americans troops who had volunteered for combat duty in the European theater of operations. More than 80 percent of leaders interviewed said that African Americans soldiers had performed very well in combat. And, 69 percent of officers and 83 percent of the NCOs queried said they saw no reason why African Americans infantrymen should not perform as well as white soldiers if both had had the same training and experience.
A majority of officers in the survey also approved of integrating African Americans platoons within white company units. However, many senior military leaders at that time remained reluctant to move toward total integration.
Other surveys conducted by the U.S. government after the war cited the unfairness and inefficiency of having segregated military units. President Harry S. Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights’ landmark report, titled, “To Secure These Rights,” condemned racial segregation wherever it existed and specifically criticized the practice of segregation in the U.S. armed forces. The report, issued on Oct. 29, 1947, recommended legislation and administrative action “to end immediately all discrimination and segregation based on race, color, creed or national origin” in all branches of the U.S. military. Truman decided to end segregation in the armed forces and the civil service by administrative action through an executive order, rather than by legislation. On July 26, 1948, he signed Executive Order 9981. It states: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the president that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The order also established a presidential committee on equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed services.
The Korean War erupted in June 1950 and somewhat slowed the implementation of Truman’s order. However, more than 600,000 African Americans served in the armed forces during the war. Two African Americans Army sergeants, Cornelius H. Charlton and William Thompson, earned the Medal of Honor during the conflict, which ended in 1953.
“Project Clear” conducted by Johns Hopkins University and released in 1954, studied the effects of segregation and integration in the Army both in the United States and in Korea. The report concluded that racially segregated units negatively affected Army efficiency, while integration enhanced military readiness. By the end of 1954, the last all-African Americans unit had been disbanded, while African Americans enlistment in the military grew.

In June 1961, the Defense Department issued a directive designed to eliminate off-post discrimination. By 1963, commanders were made responsible to ensure that their troops were treated fairly by off-post landlords.

During the Vietnam War (1962-75) African Americans continued to join the armed forces in large numbers. Many volunteered to join the prestigious and high-risk airborne and air mobile helicopter combat units.
Future Air Force Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., a graduate of the African Americans pilot training program conducted at then-Tuskegee College, later Tuskegee University, Ala., during World War II, flew 78 combat missions into North Vietnam. James later became the first four-star African Americans general in the U.S. armed forces. There were 20 African Americans Medal of Honor recipients during the Vietnam War.
African Americans enlistment into the U.S. military jumped with the advent of the all-volunteer force in 1973. African Americans made up about 17 percent of the military’s enlisted force when the draft ended in 1973. By the early 1980s, African Americans made up nearly 24 percent of the enlisted force. And when the United States and its allies pushed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait in 1991, the most-senior officer in the U.S. military was an African Americans, Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell later served as Secretary of State in President George W. Bush’s administration.
And today, African Americans continue to answer duty’s call as members of the U.S. armed forces during the war against global terrorism. During a recent Army commemoration of the work and birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the late Andrew J. Young Jr. remarked that the U.S. military fulfills King’s dream of equality and social justice for all by its practice of promoting people based on individual merit, rather than by ethnic makeup. Service members “appreciate the diversity of this nation, and you fight to defend the freedoms and opportunities of all of our citizens,” Young said at the observance. “And that is what makes the military a leader in our society.”
Sources: Information for this article was compiled from U.S. military documents, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration material and other sources. For additional information on the role of African Americans in the U.S. military, visit the Department of Defense website at:
Related Source: An additional encyclopedia article on the participation of African Americans in the U.S. military is available at

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