We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievements of African Americans have contributed to our nation’s greatness.Yvette Clarke
It’s so paramount especially in our current climate that we not only go forward but also grow forward as we celebrate Black History Month and its importance to America’s history.
The acknowledgment of the journey of Black Americans whether by highlighting contributions, political voices, prominent figures, sacrifices, etc.,—though sometimes uncomfortable to hear—call for recognition. Those attributes and many many more are integral yarns that make up the quilt of America plus make up the cornerstone of Black History Month.
HOW DID BLACK HISTORY MONTH COME TO BE?
Feeling that the consequential works of African-Americans were largely ignored in the history books, author, journalist, and historian Carter G. Woodson—now appropriately recognized as the “father of black history”—lobbied vigorously for the national recognition of black stories and perspectives.
Founding The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) way back in 1915, with the aim of promoting the study of African-American history and achievement as a discipline, it quickly caught on and was integrated into school curriculums.
A decade later, in 1926, Woodson and the ASALH created what they called “Negro History Week” to further fortify the importance of Black heritage. It would be celebrated during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and Frederick Douglass (February 14th). As time passed, (fast-forward to 1976) President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month a time of national observance.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY?
Whether you’re looking to gain more knowledge about Black culture in America, further amplify the conversation, or just share your own personal experiences, here’s some ways to celebrate the month (even virtually)!
- Commit to Learning More About the Timeline of African Americans in America. The journey is filled with many trials and tribulations but also moments of triumph and achievement.
- Add to Your Library. Today, thousands of artists, dancers, painters, and writers are diversifying their storytelling; not only about color but culture, as well. From works of fiction, poetry, memoirs to interpretive movement or expressive art, now is a great time to immerse yourself in a perspective of another culture.
- Create a Savory an African-American Meal. Long heralded as soul food, African American recipes were passed down through generations with rich stories (pinch of this and that) and gatherings that have become a cornerstone of the Black experience.
- Diversify Your Movie Night. Create some alone time or grab the family and check out a flick featuring great actors, writers, directors, musicians, or producers of color. Here’s a few recommendations: 7 Netflix Movies to Watch During Black History Month
- Shop Black-Owned Small Businesses. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list from Tulip & Sage of 6 Black-Owned Etsy Shops To Add To Your Favourites Today.
- Donate…services (phone bank, update mailing list, etc,) or funds to local organizations that give back to the programs that support the Black community which statistically bears the brunt of wealth of inequality.
- Advocate…for change and equity in this country through informed voting, keeping friends and family accountable, speaking up about injustices, and raising awareness.
RESOURCES TO SUPPLEMENT THE CELEBRATIONS
- Why We Need Black History Month—Especially This Year
- Talks to celebrate Black History Month
- Beyond slavery and civil rights: What parents need to know about Black History Month
- Black Culture Connections
As we honor the resilience, creativity—and vitality of Black Americans in the face of inequity and violence, that’s been a part of our past and present—let’s be grounded, open to learning, and teaching complete history.