POV has featured a number of films that are ideal for teaching black history year-round. This collection offers educators a range of our most popular accompanying content, from lesson plans and discussion guides to reading lists.

Lesson Plans

*Note: Lesson plans are accompanied by streaming video clips

Exploring the Heroes of Social Justice Movements

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
Grades 6-8

Mr. Armstrong with flag in the POV documentary The Barber of Birmingham. Credit: Robin Fryday.
Mr. Armstrong with flag in the POV documentary The Barber of Birmingham. Credit: Robin Fryday.

In this lesson, students identify and research participants in social justice movements or other types of movements or communities.

» Lesson Plan: The Barber of Birmingham

The History and Legacy of U.S. Slavery

Traces of the Trade
Grades 6-12

DeWolf family members and Ghanaian Beatrice Manu at a river ceremony in Ghana where captured Africans were brought for a last bath. From the POV documentary Traces of the Trade
A river ceremony in Ghana from the POV documentary Traces of the Trade. Credit: Amishadai Sackitey.

Students explore the history and legacy of U.S. slavery and whether or not reparations should be made to the descendents of slaves.
» Lesson Plan: Traces of the Trade

The Root Causes of Urban Rebellion

Revolution ’67
Grades 7-12

Scene from the POV documentary Revolution '67. Credit: Donated by Corbis-Bettman.
Scene from the POV documentary Revolution ’67. Credit: Donated by Corbis-Bettman.

Students use viewing skills, note-taking strategies and class discussion to determine the causes of Newark’s 1967 urban rebellion. After identifying lessons learned students write about how those lessons could be applied toward positive changes in their local community.

» Lesson Plan: Revolution ’67

Discussion Guides & Reading Lists

Roadblocks to Voting (The Barber of Birmingham)

The discussion guide offers background on U.S. civil rights and voting rights movements, including a comprehensive section on the roadblocks to voting for blacks during the Jim Crow era. The reading list provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised in The Barber of Birmingham that are ideal for starting a conversation about the film and its relevance to both historical and current voting rights issues and inequalities.

» Discussion Guide: The Barber of Birmingham
» Reading List: The Barber of Birmingham

The History and Legacy of U.S. Slavery (Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North)

As a classroom tool, Traces of the Trade offers powerful new perspectives on the black/white divide. The accompanying discussion guide and reading list provide excellent starting points for discussion of the legacy of slavery and its influence on the lives of Americans of all colors and generations.

» Discussion Guide: Traces of the Trade
» Reading List: Traces of the Trade

Political Representation of Minorities (Chisholm ’72)

Shirley Chisholm, an outspoken advocate for the rights of women and minorities and an unfaltering critic of the Vietnam War, was shunned by the political establishment. Chisholm ’72 reveals how this passionate and articulate woman gained the support of an unusual crew of political supporters, including blacks, feminists, and young voters. The film and its accompanying materials are a springboard for discussions on civic engagement. The campaign-trail adventures of Chisholm and her supporters provide a revealing portrait of how politics can both inspire and exclude.

» Discussion Guide: Chisholm ’72
» Reading List: Chisholm ’72

U.S. Civil Rights and the Question of Race (Brother Outsider)

During his 60-year career as an activist, organizer and “troublemaker,” Bayard Rustin formulated many of the strategies that propelled the American civil rights movement. But his open homosexuality forced him to remain in the background, marking him again and again as a “brother outsider.” The discussion guide and reading list illuminate the life and work of a forgotten prophet of social change.

» Discussion Guide: Brother Outsider
» Reading List: Brother Outsider

Social Activism (A Panther in Africa)

On October 30, 1969, Pete O’Neal, a young Black Panther in Kansas City, Missouri, was arrested for transporting a gun across state lines. One year later, O’Neal fled the charge, and for over 30 years, he has lived in Tanzania as one of the last American exiles from an era when activists considered themselves at war with the U.S. government. The accompanying materials provide students with an opportunity to think deeply about race issues in America today, social activism and community building.

» Discussion Guide: A Panther in Africa
» Reading List: A Panther in Africa

Loving v. Virginia (Hardwood)

The film’s background of race and racism makes the Academy Award-nominated Hardwood a compelling tool for classroom use.

The film is a deeply personal filmic journey by director Hubert Davis, the son of former Harlem Globetrotter Mel Davis. Mel, now a coach for young basketball players in Vancouver, recalls falling in love at first sight with Hubert’s mother, a white woman, at a time when racism seemed to make their union impossible. Despite their emotional bonds still resonating over 20 years later — Mel chose to marry a black woman, with whom he also had a son. The filmmaker unites both sides of his family, speaking movingly about the complex web of love, betrayal and family ties that bind them all in this Academy Award-nominated film. Through personal interviews, archival footage and home movies Davis delves into his father’s past in the hope of finding his own.

» Discussion Guide: Hardwood
» Reading List: Hardwood

Published by

POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.