Black History Essay Idea

Inspire your students to explore black history and culture through writing. Present any of these engaging writing prompts in your middle school or high school classroom during Black History Month or beyond. Each activity requires students to inquire about the people, places, events, and issues that have shaped African-American history.

Writing a Historical Dialogue

Ask your students to imagine what a conversation would be like between them and a significant African-American contributor to social studies, science, math, or English. What would they ask? What would they want to know?

Present them with the following lists of famous figures and encourage them to choose a person they don't know much about. Then have them research the figure and create a dialogue (written conversation) between themselves and the person. The dialogue should discuss important experiences in the person’s life and work.

Social Studies/History



Use this minilesson to help your students create a historical dialogue.

Writing an Arts & Performance Review

Discuss the significance of the Harlem Renaissance, an era in the 1920s and 30s that is considered a golden age for African-American art, music, dance, and literature. Show this video to give a brief overview of the period.

Then ask your students to pretend that they are entertainment critics in New York City during this era. Explain that their editor (you) has assigned them to write a review of a special piece of art from the period. Have them choose between the following options, or allow them to seek other art and entertainment from the period:

Have students complete background research on the artist, writer, musician, or performance they chose. Then assign a written review in which students do the following tasks:

  • Give their opinions of the art or performance.
  • Give examples from the art or performance to support their views.
  • Use specific details to describe something special about the sights, sounds, colors, or words.
  • Provide background information about the artist, writer, performer, or genre.
  • Describe how the piece fits within the larger culture of the Harlem Renaissance.

Use this minilesson to help your students write an arts and performance review.

Writing a List Poem

Help your students create list poems, which playfully explore a topic by listing people, places, things, or ideas. Often the title says what the list is about. Advise students that list poems do not necessarily need to include rhythm or rhyme, but each word should be carefully chosen and memorable.

Present the example below. Then ask students to write their own list poems based on the same title, or allow them to choose different topics related to Black History Month.

Black History Is

Frederick at a lectern

Harriet along a railroad

Rosa aboard a bus

Martin amid a march

Thurgood inside a courtroom

Nine outside a schoolhouse

Jackie at the ball diamond

Mae beyond the Earth

Barack atop the polls

Use this minilesson to help your students write a list poem.

Debating the Issues

Many of the writers, artists, and political figures that drove African-American history did so by crafting powerful arguments. Inspire your students to build their own arguments about key issues by presenting them with the following debatable statements.

  • African-Americans’ fight for social justice ended after the Civil Rights Movement.
  • The Academy Awards need to do a better job of recognizing African-Americans’ contributions in cinema.
  • Black History Month isn’t needed because black history is American history.
  • Black culture is a lifestyle.

Ask students to pick a statement that they have strong feelings about. Do they agree or disagree? Have students research their topics to create argumentative essays that either support or counter the statements they've chosen. Introduce them to the 7 C’s for Building an Argument to help them develop their essays. Emphasize that students should consider both sides of the issue and support their own stance in a respectful manner.

(Neftali /, Oldrich /, catwalker /, YANGCHAO /, Boris15 /, catwalker /, BokehStock /, Neftali /

"Mae Jemison" by NASA - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

"Duke Ellington at the Hurricane Club 1943". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

"Jrobinson" by Photo by Bob Sandberg Look photographer - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

A List Of Impressive Black History Essay Topics

African Americans have a rich history, which Black History Month celebrates every February. Black people in America have made many tremendous contributions to art, science, music, and literature. Black History Month was first introduced in 1976 as an expansion of the earlier Black HIstory Week. It was actually first proposed in 1969 by students at Kent State University. Ever since then, it’s been a regular fixture in American culture. During February, school curricula often shift to a special focus on African American history and culture. Part of this curriculum often involves writing essays about Black History topics. There is quite a lot of content in the history of African-Americans, from the initial importation of West African slaves to modern issues of racial equality. It can almost be difficult to choose a topic, since there’s so much content to sort through.

Here’s a list of impressive Black History Essay topics, all of which will provide quite a bit of historical information that you can work with to create an A+ essay.

  1. African-American Soldiers in the American Revolution
  2. African-American Soldiers in the Civil War
  3. African-American Soldiers in World War 2
  4. Crispus Attucks
  5. History of the African Baptist Church
  6. Harlem Renaissance
  7. George Washington Carver
  8. Rosa Parks
  9. The Underground Railroad
  10. Frederick Douglass
  11. Slave Narratives
  12. The Great Migration
  13. Tuskegee Airmen
  14. Secret schools for slaves in the Antebellum South
  15. Colin Powell
  16. Condoleeza Rice
  17. W.E.B. Du Bois
  18. Toni Morrison
  19. The History of African-American Literature
  20. Langston Hughes
  21. Walter Francis White
  22. Zora Neale Hurston
  23. Countee Cullen
  24. Helene Johnson
  25. Duke Ellington
  26. Prentiss Taylor
  27. History of the Apollo Theatre
  28. History of African-American Art
  29. History of Blues Music
  30. History of Jazz
  31. Women in the Civil Rights Movement
  32. African-American Poetry
  33. Jim Crow Laws in the American South
  34. Influence of West African Cultures
  35. Conditions for Slaves during the MIddle Passage
  36. Afro-Caribbean History
  37. African-Americans and the Second Great Awakening
  38. Harriet Beecher Stowe
  39. Radical Republicans and the End of Slavery
  40. The Life of Former Slaves After the Civil War
  41. The Haitian Revolution
  42. The History and Evolution of Hip-Hop
  43. Bill Cosby
  44. The History and Formation of African-American Cultural Identity
  45. Blanche K. Bruce
  46. Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, and Black Voter Turnout in the South
  47. Tenant Farming in the Postwar South

This is really only a tiny fraction of the many, many topics available for Black HIstory Month essays. Some of these topics can also be narrowed down considerably. For example, when talking about the Harlem Renaissance, you could focus on visual art, theatre, poetry, or political thought. You can also examine the factors that led to it. Overall, you should easily be able to find the perfect essay topic about Black History.

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