As educators and communities seek to highlight Black history during the month of February, we want to highlight our free curriculum guides and discussion guides for powerful films for your classroom. These films  tell important stories of Black joy, Black history, Black resilience, Black achievement and much more. Teaching with film for Black History Month, or at any time of the year, engages students and brings important stories that shape our world to light.

Collage of film posters for Hidden Figures, Just Merc, and Summer of Soul. Text says: "Black History Is History. Teach With Film. JourneysInFilm.Org."

Among our most popular resources are our curriculum guides for Hidden FiguresJust Mercy, and Summer of Soul. All three of these films, and the free core-based lesson plans we’ve created to accompany them, are award-winning films that tell important true stories of Black History in the U.S. Our Hidden Figures curriculum guide features 8 lesson plans with lessons about U.S. History and Civil Rights as well as STEM lessons to engage students with math and science learning.

Further, for Just Mercy, in addition to four lessons, which highlight U.S. History, Civil Rights, U.S. Government and Civics, we offer an independent student learning packet that can be used in hybrid learning settings. Additionally, many educators pair this film and our resources with their teaching of To Kill A Mockingbird. 

Finally, for Summer of Soul, which tells the powerful story of the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969, we created a six lesson core-based curriculum guide. Lesson 3 in that guide, entitled 1969: A Unique Year was named Share My Lesson’s #1 partner resource of 2022.

All of these resources are completely free to download. Simply visit our library, click on the film and follow instructions to add these free resources to your cart. You click here to browse our library of free resources:

Black History Lessons

🔔 Update February 2024! Looking for individual lessons for teaching Black history? Check out our brand new Black History Lessons collection, with classroom-ready individual lessons for teaching US Black History and Global Black History.

Collage of film posters for Beat The Drum, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, Chevalier, Hidden Figures, Just Mercy, and Summer of Soul.

Expanding the Canon with Film for Black History Month

🔔 Update October 2023! We’ve added a new Disney feature film to our Black History collection: Chevalier, based on the true life story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a renowned fencer, violinist, and the first Black classical music composer in France who took the court of Marie Anoinette by storm. Our Chevalier Discussion Guide provides a springboard for engaging discussions about Race and Identity, Women and Patriarchy, and also Bologne’s legacy and the French Revolution. You can also check out this blog post on Share My Lesson, Teaching about Joseph Bologne and Amplifying Hidden Histories.

We also encourage you to explore the discussion guides we created for LA92 and American Inside Out with Katie Couric. LA92 is a National Geographic documentary about the uprising that took place in Los Angeles in 1992 after footage of police brutality against Rodney King rocked the nation. American Inside Out with Katie Couric is National Geographic’s documentary companion piece to their magazine’s race issue.

Furthermore, we encourage educators to include resources and stories during Black History Month that highlight Black experiences from around the world. Thus, in our library, we have a free curriculum guide for Beat the Drum. This narrative film (appropriate for high school students) is about a young South African boy who is orphaned because of AIDS. He journeys from his rural village to the city to find his uncle. It becomes a journey of self-discovery. Our curriculum guide for this film features important lessons about South African, Epidemics/Pandemics and more.

Additionally, Disney’s narrative film Queen of Katwe, featuring Lupito Nyong’o, tells the true life story of Phiona Mutesi, a 9 year-old chess prodigy from Kampala, Nigeria. Our discussion guide for this film helps students dive into Phiona’s story and connect with her inspiring life journey.

Finally, another of our most popular educational resources is our free curriculum guide for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. This is a powerful narrative film that tells the true life story of William Kamkwambe. William saw a need in his village in Malawi and used education and innovation to meet that need. Our rich six lesson curriculum guide for this film features powerful STEM lessons with hands-on activities, Environmental Science lessons, ELA lessons, World History and much more.

Thus, no matter what subject area you teach, our library has something for you and all of our resources are free!

Collage of film posters for Hidden Figures, Summer of Soul, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, Queen of Katwe, Just Mercy, Chevalier, and LA 92. Text on the left says: "Black History IS History."

Free Webinars for Teaching with Film for Black History Month

Through Share My Lesson, you can watch, on demand, our webinars for many of the curriculum guides we’ve featured in this blog. Here is a list, with links to all of the relevant free webinars available through Share My Lesson.

White background with various movie posters on it: Summer of Soul, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Chevalier, Hidden Figures and Justice Mercy. Journeys in Film logo at the bottom.

Written by Jennifer Fischer
Updates by SJ Evans