Reading and hands-on experiences are good ways to help students connect to past events and the prominent figures of black history and to reinforce the past's relevance to the current day. As with the history of any culture, it is important to treat the subject of black history with respect.
Teaching black history as part of the regular, year-round curriculum helps students understand that it all comes under the umbrella of American history and is not differentiated from other events that have shaped the United States. Doing exercises with older kids, such as asking them to bring in newspaper articles that discuss current social disparities or leaders working to find solutions to racial or ethnic-based challenges, helps connect the past with situations in which they may find themselves.
Engaging students' senses in learning about a culture that is very much alive today can powerfully connect them to the subject. If possible, take students to see nearby historical sites or monuments to important African-American historical figures such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth or Martin Luther King, Jr. If not, investigate museums, libraries and public areas that may have relevant exhibits. Other activities, such as introducing kids to jazz music, Southern cooking or elders in their communities who can tell stories about their own experiences with the civil rights movement, also help cement lessons and culture in the kids' minds.