Authored by Toni Cross, Middle School History Teacher, Middle School Diversity Liaison
Black History Month wasn’t always a month, it started as a week. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, also known as the Father of Black History, initiated the first celebration of Negro History Week on February 7, 1926.
February was selected because it was the birth month of two Americans who played a prominent role in shaping Black History — Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. It was common practice of the time to honor great Americans, and Woodson was able to use this practice to promote his idea.
In 1969, Black educators and students at Kent State University first proposed Black History Month. The first celebration took place in 1970 on the Ohio campus. Six years down the line, Black History Month was celebrated across the country when President Gerald Ford encouraged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Woodson believed the week should be used to celebrate ordinary people who do extraordinary things, and I encourage the HB community to do the same for the duration of the month.
Here are six ways the HB community can celebrate Black History Month:
- First, check out this awesome video from Google!
2. Celebrate together! Fierce allyship allows us to be joyful in another group’s joy. And if this is challenging, it provides an opportunity to lean into discomfort and learn more. #NotForSchoolButForLife
3. Follow someone new on social media who is a positive influence in the Black community. For example, Black Twitter is not a group, but a collection of individuals who craft content with the intent of empowering the Black community and combating limited racial perspectives. Google “best Black – insert social media platform here – accounts to follow” and start there!
4. Re-watch your favorite movies that feature a majority Black cast or production crew. Movies can be a window into a culture, especially when the plot is celebratory and thoughtful. Black Panther, The Princess and the Frog, and The Wiz are family-friendly movies that can lead to wonderful discussions.
5. Diversify your reading! Another great way to connect to any culture is through an author’s gaze. HB’s librarians are a great resource for diverse and inclusive reading lists. Check out their Black History Month reading lists!
6. Unpack school conversations. Many HB teachers embrace a culturally-diverse curriculum. Your Middle Schooler’s first thought might not be about Black History Month, but about an assigned novel, or a conversation about African civilizations, or a facet of American history via a different lens.