February is Black History Month and my favorite month of the year (aside from my birth month, December).
In 1927, historian Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History week which led to Black schools and communities nationwide hosting celebrations, history clubs, performances, and lectures to highlight the work of prominent members of the Black community throughout history. Those celebrations grew and grew until, finally, President Gerald Ford decided to officially recognize February as Black History Month.
Today, this cultural and national recognition has grown into what we see today – Black artists and creators celebrated in collaborations with brands like Target, parades centering Black community groups and individuals, special televised events, and so on.
Why is Black History Month so important?
Black History Month is important because as Black Americans, we seldom get to see our history centered beyond the one (watered down) chapter about slavery and civil rights in a history book or the voyeuristic portrayal of Black trauma in films and television. Black Americans want and deserve truthful retellings of our history from our point of view, but beyond that, we deserve a celebration of our joy and how we thrive as a community despite all the trauma we’ve collectively experienced.
Celebrating Black History in Your Home
There are a myriad of ways to celebrate Black History Month without centering Black trauma. At the core of whatever ways you choose to celebrate should be honor, respect, equity, and appreciation.
Here’s a brief list of 10 ways you can celebrate Black History Month:
- Read a new book(s) written by a Black author that centers joy, not trauma
- Discover Black-owned businesses in your area to support
- Order dinner from a local Black-owned restaurant
- Research and learn about prominent Black trailblazers in your area and the impact they had
- Visit a Black history museum virtually or in-person
- Explore a virtual reality tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Look up BHM events and celebrations in your area and attend
- Donate to charities dedicated to fighting injustice
- Use your platform to amplify Black voices (but be sure you’re not just doing this for 28 days)
- Learn about which local legislation has a disparate impact on Black and Brown communities and how you can help change that
As you celebrate Black History Month, think also about how you can begin and continue to support Black Futures in your community. Research the disparities that impact Black and Brown youth and pledge to be part of the change so that all people in your community have the same access and opportunities to basic necessities, education, healthy lifestyles, and success.