Black History Month celebrates and commemorates the lives and accomplishments of black people in the United States. It shares the pain and the power of the role of the black citizenry of the country dating back to when they were considered less than full citizens.
It is important for families of all races to mark Black History Month by exploring the elements of life impacted by black Americans, as well as to understand the great lengths black Americans must go to in order to be impactful.
Our own Caleb is celebrating Black History Month with a daily Youtube tribute to a notable Black American. Use the link below to enjoy Caleb’s knowledge and perspective.
A wonderful statement by Carlos A. Rodriquez explains the difference for non-blacks between accepting black people as equals and actively inviting them into their lives and learning what you can about the situation in which they live.
“I see no color’ is not the goal.
I see your color and I honor you.
I value your input.
I will be educated about your lived experiences.
I will work against the racism that harms you.
You are beautiful and I will do better.
That’s the goal.”
For our thoughtful readers who are not part of the black community, Black History Month becomes a test of what they know about black history and what they can share with their children and grandchildren.
It is easy to find a list of accomplishments by black Americans with a simple Google search, and it is informative to read off those names to younger generations who might not know – from George Washington Carver on down through the rest of recorded history.
But learning is best done experientially, and even in the time of the coronavirus, you can provide information and visual learning to your children and grandchildren about the history of black Americans.
The library is always a good place to start, on almost any topic. Even if your local library is not open these days, they have staff on hand ready to assist you in learning about black history. They likely have a black history display up every February, with books to suggest for reading by children and adults of all ages.
Learn about the history of the Black History Month, that it started as Negro History Week in 1962 and grew, through the growth from the civil rights movement, into Black History Month in 1976, designated first by President Gerald R. Ford and designated again every February since.
But Black History Month is not only a time to celebrate the successes of citizens of African descent. It is also a time for thoughtful consideration of the struggles black people went through before they were allowed to be called citizens.
Read the story of Harriet Tubman, who may soon be the first black person whose likeness will appear on American currency. Read not only of her heroics but of her struggles to be heroic.
Children, who struggle themselves every day to become bigger and stronger and more capable, will find it interesting to hear of the hard lives lived by black Americans before the civil rights movement provided some degree of freedom and recognition.
In the last year, Americans of all color, race and religion have become aware of what life is like for a black American. The Black Lives Matter movement is certainly a political flashpoint, but it is also an opportunity for non-black friends and family to consider what it must be like to be black in America.
Yes, Black History Month is a time to give proper applause to the accomplishments of black Americans, who gave us the three-light traffic light, a home security system with cameras, and automatic elevator doors. Black American invented those things, and so much more.
But Black History, like all history, has its struggles as well as its accomplishments. The month of February is the perfect time to give thought to those struggles. It’s a nationally recognized month of discovery, for blacks as well as those who are not black.
Consider these words from former slave and famed American intellectual Booker T. Washington:
‘I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”