Peaceful Lessons from Peaceful Leaders: Tri-Leadership

This shortest month of the year is typically filled with history reports, pageants, guest speakers, cultural fairs and the like. Seldom a day goes by that we don't hear the names of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver, and so on.
Grade Level


  • Computer
  • paper
  • ruler
  • writing utensils



Prior to the lesson, create a simple chart using the computer or simply a ruler and pen. The chart should have five columns and four rows. (If time permits, students could create their own charts.)

Write these words across the top: Name, Problem, Strategy, and Impact. Write these words down the side: Past, Present, and Future. Your chart should look like this:

  Name Problem Strategy Impact

Make enough copies of the chart for each student to have one.

To begin the lesson, ask students to call out the names of individuals typically celebrated during Black History Month; write those names on the board.

Drawing from your own list of unsung heroes, ask students if they've ever heard of the individuals you've selected; add their names to your list. (Extraordinary African Americans not often mentioned might include: scientist, Roger Arliner Young; inventor, Sarah Boone; athlete, James "Cool Papa" Bell; activist, Julian Bond.)

Reflecting on the list, ask students to discuss why these individuals are heroes. What obstacles did they face? How did they overcome them? What contributions have they made to our society?

Furthering the conversation, ask students to provide examples of intolerance they may have experienced in their own lives (shoving on the playground, name calling, stealing, harassment, etc.) and how they dealt with the issue (or perhaps avoided it).

Perhaps some of your students are active in the school or in their community. Allow individuals to share ways in which they try to make a difference.

Distribute the charts to students. Next to the box marked, "Past" (in the "Name" column), have students write in the name of an African American leader from the past. Next to the box marked, "Present," have students write in the name of a current African American leader. Next to the box marked, "Future," have students write their own names.

Next, students should fill in the box labeled, "Problem," with a problem that the individual in the corresponding box may have encountered. They should continue on by filling in the "Strategy" used to solve that problem and the "Impact" it has had on others.

Some students might have a hard time placing themselves among the leaders they selected for the past and present. Guide them in understanding how the strategy chosen to respond to even the smallest act of injustice can set a pattern for life and future encounters.

Have students share their charts with classmates and place them on display in the class.

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