The month of February, which is Black History Month, is the perfect opportunity to make an extra effort to celebrate the history of a people who have been able to remain strong and proud despite all we have gone through while fighting for racial equality and justice. Although February is the official month of celebration, Black history should be promoted and celebrated every day.
Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later. Six years later, it was being celebrated all over the United States, following recognition by President Gerald Ford. Also known as African-American History Month, it has received official recognition from governments in Canada, and more recently, has been observed in places like Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. However, it is celebrated in October in European countries.
For 2021, the Black History Month theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” explores the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the United States.
In the past year alone, there have been extreme highs and lows especially for Black Americans and this makes celebrating Black History Month this year even more important than ever. Blacks have consistently suffered police brutality, persistent racial disparities among other lows. On the high side, this year, the first Black female vice president and first Black Georgia senator were sworn into power among other notable achievements by Black Americans.
However, the reality remains that Black people continue to face many systemic challenges and oppression and for change to occur, everyone must play a part in the fight for a truly equal society. Starting this Black history month, you can join in the honor of the Black experience by learning and educating yourself on the history of Black people––starting from slavery till date and supporting causes focused on the fight for racial justice and equality. These are just a few of the many ways you too can get involved now and always.
Here are 7 ways you can be a part of Black History Month…
#1. Read books about Black history and books by Black authors in general
If you want to fully understand what is going on, you have to read! Read about Black history in books by Black authors and you can take it a step further by shopping for these books from Black-owned book stores, as much as possible.
#2. Watch movies and documentaries on Black history
Don’t stop with books. Watch movies and documentaries on Black history and Black culture. Here are a few suggestions: Django Unchained, If Beale Street Could Talk, Southside With You, American Son, The Black Godfather, When They See Us, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Becoming, Insecure, Black-ish, Grown-ish, Dear White People, The Help, amongst others.
#3. Support Black-owned businesses
From your neighborhood to the stores and even online, there are tons of black-owned businesses that cater to every aspect of our daily lives. Show them love and support their businesses as they face the biggest hurdles in building and sustaining their businesses.
#4. Educate your children on Black history and racism
Now that you know better, it is time to teach the young ones and most importantly, they learn from your behavior the most. If you are not sure about how you can educate them, there are tons of books for kids on racism that will guide you and them. Read books such as A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory, White Water by Michael S. Brandy and Eric Stein, All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Blended by Sharon M. Draper, Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison, Anti Racist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi, amongst others.
#5. Listen to podcasts and audio series
We must continue to educate ourselves about the past and use that knowledge to shape our mindset and plan impactful actions for the future. Listen to podcasts and audio series on Google, Spotify, and Apple to learn about race and understand the many ways racism remains prevalent in America and across the world. Listen to podcasts such as Code Switch, The Nod, The Stoop, Identity Politics, Latinos Who Lunch, Long Distance, All My Relations, Still Processing, Yo, Is This Racist?, Invisibilia, Scene on Radio, The Brownpoint with Cari Champion, 1619, Pod Save The People, among others.
You can also explore this Vanity Fair curated list of eight podcasts to deepen your knowledge of Black history.
#6. Plan family events
You can attend events that empower you and your kids with knowledge and power, either in person or virtually. Visit places like the Black History Museum and National Museum of African American History and Culture as such places will shed light on the Black experience, including slavery, civil rights, literature, music, fashion and so much more. Also, you can research Black history as a family event and read from only credible sources online.
#7. Fight and donate towards equality and justice for Black lives
Black lives are consistently in danger so speak up for a Black person whenever you can. Continue showing up and donating to organizations like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Real Justice, Until Freedom, and many more––that support and fight for Black lives and justice.
Do your bit, no matter how small, to make society a better place.
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