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15 African Americans Who Changed History

Learn about these amazing African-Americans and how they influenced our history in their own unique way.

Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February.

Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

It was originally celebrated during the second week of February, to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

What began as National Negro History week in 1926, was expanded into a full month.

Important dates:

  • January 17, 2022 (third Monday in January) – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day aka King holiday
  • February – Black History Month
  • February 12 – Abraham Lincoln’s birthday
  • February 21, 2022 (third Monday in February) – Presidents’ Day
  • February 20 – Frederick Douglass’ birthday
  • February 22 – George Washington’s birthday

African Americans Who Changed History Unit Study

This unit study includes three pages, in PDF format:

  • Cover
  • Biography Graphic Organizer
  • List of prominent African Americans

Print this packet out and put it in your history binder.

Cover

The cover features Rosa Parks and Barack Obama. For extra credit, prepare a report on Rosa Parks or complete an in-depth study on President Barack Obama.

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This packet can be used for a Black History unit study or during any time of year.

If you’re going to complete the study on all 15 individuals, you’ll want to print out 15 copies of the biography research sheet.

Biography Graphic Organizer

Students use the organizer to guide their research about their chosen person.

The biography research organizer includes space for the following information:

  • Name of the person of interest
  • Early and family life
  • Major accomplishments
  • What contributions to history did this person make?
  • Interesting facts
  • Talking points about this person

15 African-Americans Who Changed History

So, who are these important African-Americans who changed history?

These African-Americans changed history:

  1. Harriet Tubman
  2. Maya Angelou
  3. Mary McLeod Bethune
  4. Langston Hughes
  5. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  6. Ruby Bridges
  7. Shirley Anita Chisholm
  8. George Washington Carver
  9. Mae Jemison
  10. Frederick Douglass
  11. Sojourner Truth
  12. Barack Obama
  13. The Little Rock Nine
  14. Colin Powell
  15. Phillis Wheatley

Movies/Documentaries About These African-Americans Who Changed History

I’m a visual learner and many kids are, too. I’ve found that beginning with a movie or using them to supplement other studies can be helpful, too.

Here are movies and documentaries you can use in your homeschool, virtual, or supplemental learning. I’ve selected one for each of the individuals on our list.

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Click the links below to watch one of these titles:

  1. Harriet Tubman – Harriet
  2. Maya Angelou – And Still I Rise
  3. Mary McLeod Bethune – African Americans Who Left Their Stamp on History
  4. Langston Hughes – Poet, Social Activist, Novelist, Playwright & Literary Giant
  5. Martin Luther King, Jr. – MLK Documentaries
  6. Ruby Bridges – Ruby Bridges
  7. Shirley Anita Chisholm – Shirley Chisholm: First African American Congresswoman
  8. George Washington Carver – His Life and Work
  9. Mae Jemison – First African-American Woman in Space
  10. Frederick Douglass – American Experience: The Abolitionists
  11. Sojourner Truth – Truth
  12. Barack Obama – Road to the White House
  13. The Little Rock Nine – Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later
  14. Colin Powell – For the Love Of Liberty: The Story Of America’s Black Patriots
  15. Phillis Wheatley – No More America

Books About these 15 African-Americans Who Changed History

Here are books you can also use in your homeschool, virtual, or supplemental learning.

Click the links below to find great books about these important individuals:

  1. Harriet Tubman
  2. Maya Angelou
  3. Mary McLeod Bethune
  4. Langston Hughes
  5. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  6. Ruby Bridges
  7. Shirley Anita Chisholm
  8. George Washington Carver
  9. Mae Jemison
  10. Frederick Douglass
  11. Sojourner Truth
  12. Barack Obama
  13. The Little Rock Nine
  14. Colin Powell
  15. Phillis Wheatley
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BONUS: 101 Black Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Leaders in Black History

To continue this unit study, check out these Black History month writing prompts. 

If you’d like to continue with a women’s history unit study, check out the “Her Story in History” packet, too. 

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