Black History Month is a time for concentrated celebration and reflection — to celebrate the individual and collective contributions the diverse community of Black Americans continues to make to our country while reflecting on the injustices and sufferings their forebearers endured on their path to freedom. However, Black History Month is primarily celebrated to encourage young Black Americans to understand and feel proud of their shared heritage, just as the “Father of Black History Month,” Carter G. Woodson, intended.
February may seem like an arbitrary time to celebrate Black History Month. That said, Woodson dedicated the month of February to this time of celebration and reflection to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a renowned abolitionist from the 19th century who escaped from slavery and dedicated his life to freeing many others, and Abraham Lincoln, the president known for officially abolishing slavery in the United States.
While it is important to express the gravity of what previous generations of Black Americans went through, kids learn best when excited and engaged with the content. So try to make Black history and culture exciting to learn about without making light of that history. Children are the future and hope for every society, so it is crucial to equip them with the awareness and power for fostering racial equality and inclusion both now and in the future.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started on this worthy endeavor!
Get Crafty Using Black History Month Colors
While Black History Month has no official colors, many individuals and organizations celebrate Black History Month by using the colors of the Pan-African flag that symbolizes the worldwide community of indigenous and diaspora ethnic groups of African descent. The Pan-African flag’s colors are red, black and green. The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) has historically articulated the significance of those colors as follows:
- Red:Red symbolizes the blood that unites all individuals of Black African descent and heritage, as well as the bloodshed for their liberation.
- Black:This color represents the existence of the worldwide community of Black people.
- Green:The color green symbolizes Africa’s abundant natural wealth.
A great way to engage your child’s creativity during Black History Month is by organizing crafts and projects centered around the colors of the Pan-African flag or other Black History Month themes. Depending on your resources and child’s interests, here are some ideas they might enjoy:
- Create a handprint heart using the colors of the Pan-African flag.
- Make a collage that incorporates the colors of the Pan-African flag, notable individuals, or defining events in Black history and culture.
- Draw or paint a picture using Pan-African flag colors that honors Black history and culture.
Go to a Virtual Museum
The richness of Black history and culture is supported and ever-renewed by the countless contributions of those who have dedicated themselves to the liberation and uplifting of Black voices, lives, and creativity. Historic figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who spearheaded the civil rights movement in the 1960s; Harriet Tubman, who rescued many Black people from slavery; or Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel into space, all advance the richness of Black history and culture.
Hundreds of museums and art galleries across the United States celebrate the accomplishments of Black artists and visionaries, honor the sacrifices of Black soldiers, commemorate the resiliency of millions of Black Americans and reflect upon the injustices theyendured as a people. If you live near a museum or gallery of Black art or history, consider scheduling a trip with your child to get a taste for the virtue, inspiration, and creativity of Black history and culture. Some famous exhibits include:
- Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri
- Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina
- National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia
If a trip to a museum or gallery of Black art and history doesn’t work, you could also take in a virtual museum on Black history and culture through a resource such as Google Arts and Culture, which has a wealth of information on the historic figures, defining moments, artistic brilliance and inspiring accomplishments that encompass Black history and culture.
Honor Black History Month With a Trivia Night
A fun way to get kids learning about the significant moments, events, and individuals defining the expansive world of Black history and culture is by organizing a trivia night! As you plan the trivia night, you may want to divide questions up into certain categories or themes — Trivial Pursuit style. If you choose to go that route, here are some suggestions for themes and topics you could focus on:
- Historical events:Enhance your child’s historical awareness of Black culture through questions about Juneteenth and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or other defining moments.
- Black artists:Pique your child’s curiosity about the artistic creativity of Black artists like Jean-Michelle Basquiat, Kerry James Marshall, Kara Walker, or Augusta Savage.
- Modern figures: Ask questions about modern-day Black icons like Beyoncé, Kamala Harris, Amanda Gorman, Lebron James, Michelle Obama, and other Black individuals you would be interested to have your child look up to!
- Historical figures:Learn about significant figures in Black history, such as Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Frederick Douglass, Angela Davis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X — the list goes on and on!
Read a Book That Celebrates Black History and Culture
There are countless books and poems to choose from that can fill your child’s mind with fascinating insights into Black history and culture! While the specific books you choose should match your child’s age and reading level, some could include:
- “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” by Maya Angelou
- “Black Heroes of the Wild West,” by James Otis Smith
- “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre,” by Carole Boston Weatherford
- “I Am Rosa Parks,” by Rosa Parks and James Haskins
- “Legendborn,” by Tracy Deonn
- “Children of Blood and Bone,” by Tomi Adeyemi
- “28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World,” by Charles Smith
If the books are short, plan to read one book per week. Conversely, if your child doesn’t enjoy reading, try an educational documentary instead! Some great options include “Selma,””A Ballerina’s Tale,””John Lewis: Good Trouble,” or “March On.”
Try an Inspired Recipe
In many ways, food is synonymous with culture. Whenever we celebrate and unite together, we tend to do so over a meal, but the ingredients and methods to cook those meals vary broadly worldwide.
Moreover, because the African diaspora also extends worldwide, there is a vast variety of foods and meals you can choose from when dipping your toes into Black cuisine! From delicious desserts like passionfruit coconut layer cake from Sierra Leone to a hearty meal of shrimp and cauliflower grits from the Southern United States, the world of Black cuisine is rich and exciting.
Plan to make a meal inspired by Black roots at least once during Black History Month, and involve your kids in the preparation and cooking of the meal! You can also encourage your kids to join you in the process of choosing which meal or meals to make. As you decide which meals to make during Black History Month, learn alongside your kids about the history of the meal and what makes it unique to Black culture.
Learn About a New Historical Figure Each Week
Whether you spark a conversation at the breakfast table on Monday morning or in the car on the way to or from school, start each week by focusing on a new historical figure central to Black History Month with a quote from the historical figure of the week or a unique fact about their life and accomplishments.
Ask your kids if they have anyone in mind that they would like to learn about each week. You can also try to find historical figures that correlate with your child’s interests. For example, if your child is a baseball fan, perhaps they would like to learn about Jackie Robinson one week. Or, if your child enjoys dance and ballet, the story of Misty Copeland might strike a particular chord for them.
Focusing on one historical figure each week can also provide shape and structure to other activities you partake in during Black History Month! For example, if your kid wants to learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one week, you can look for documentaries, movies, and books about Dr. King, find recipes that are rooted in the Black cuisine of Alabama, or have a trivia night that is devoted to the work of Dr. Martin Luther KingJr.
Learn More About How CCA Celebrates Black History Month
We love to celebrate Black History Month at CCA with the bright and curious minds enrolled in our online public school! Whether that involves a field trip to local museums or in-classroom learning, our cyber charter school is committed to ensuring the leaders of tomorrow learn from the past and build a better future by listening to and lifting the voices and experiences of Black Americans. If you would like to learn more about how CCA celebrates Black History Month or enroll your child, we welcome you to contact us today!