Black History Month: 11 Ways to Recognize the Contributions & Sacrifices of African Americans by Ann Marie Patitucci

Black History Month: 11 Ways to Recognize the Contributions & Sacrifices of African Americans

Black History Month, which is observed every February in the U.S., is a time to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of Black Americans, reflect on and learn from the past and work toward a future free of oppression and systemic racism. 

Here are 11 things you can do to celebrate Black Americans and learn about their contributions and sacrifices:

  1. Learn the origins of Black History Month. Black History Month originated in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It is observed annually. 
  2. Visit a Black history museum. There are over 100 Black or African American history museums across the U.S. You might also visit a civil rights museum. I will be visiting Memphis, Tenn., soon and while there I plan to visit the National Civil Rights Museum which preserves the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. Support Black-owned businesses. This is something you can do in person or online. If you’re not in a position to support businesses financially at this time, you can always share their posts and recommend their products on social media.
  4. Donate to organizations that support racial justice, inclusion and civil rights. Some non-profit organizations that do so: American Civil Liberties Union FoundationBlack Girls CodeBlack Lives MatterThe Black Youth ProjectColor of ChangeEqual Justice InitiativeNational Civil Rights MuseumNational Health Law ProgramSouthern Poverty Law Center; and Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
  5. Watch Black history documentaries and films. For example, the following are available on Netflix: 13thBecomingThe Best of EnemiesHigh on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed AmericaLovingMa Rainey’s Black BottomMudbound; and When They See Us.
  6. Attend local Black History Month events. Look to your local libraries, museums, theatres, movie theatres, colleges and universities for local events happening in February and throughout the year.
  7. Participate in online events. For instance: The National Museum of American History offers plenty of ways to celebrate Black history from the comfort of your home. From the National Museum of African American History and Culture: “This February, we celebrate the theme of Black health and wellness by creating a space that highlights Black pioneers' trailblazing contributions to Western medicine, addresses health disparities facing our communities, and encourages healing through education." 
  8. Purchase, read and share books by Black authors. The No Name Book Club, dedicated to amplifying diverse voices, has compiled a list of Black-owned & POC-owned bookstores across the U.S. and throughout the world.
  9. Diversify your children’s bookshelves. Representation matters. It’s important that children see characters who look like them in the books they read as well as characters who don't look like them. Author Grace Lin refers to this as the “mirrors” and “windows” in books (and other texts and media). I recommend Lin’s TED Talk The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf.
  10. Read or listen to The 1619 Project by The New York Times Magazine. “The 1619 Project” launched in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in America. It was developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones and writers from both The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine.
  11. Listen. When Black Americans share their stories, when they share what it’s like to be Black in the United States, let’s listen. Let’s listen and learn, and not just in February.

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I’ve been supporting many black owned businesses, for these reasons as well as the quality of their products and services. Black Lives Matter.
Elisa Schmitz
I love this, Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead , and all your suggestions are wonderful. I would add that visiting places with historical significance is a wonderful way to learn. Sheri B Doyle shares a wonderful perspective on the Civil Rights Trail here: travel: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks: Take a Walk Through History Along the Civil Rights Trail in Montgomery, Alabama Thank you so much for this important post!
Ann Marie Patitucci
Great addition, Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds and Sheri B Doyle ! We have several historic places here in Richmond, VA, too!
I am inspired by the words of Dr. King, thank you for re-sharing them here...

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