Black History Month is an excellent time for reflection on the achievements of many African Americans. The most recent events have taught us that Black History Matters! This month can be a time for adults to teach kids and learn about Black history as well. Commonly, we hear Black people say we got the coldest and shortest month of the year when a black man founded Black history month. It started as Negro History Week and then became Black History Week, then later down the line a month. It was not created to be a conspiracy to deprive African Americans of a full month. Carter G. Woodson made it and chose February because it had Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas birthdays. Black history month was created to commemorate African Americans' achievements separate from agitation and the political side. Carter G. Woodson viewed Black history as an all-year affair, not a one-month affair. He encouraged schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what students learned all year.
Each year, a theme is given to Black history month. The 2021 article is "The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity." According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History: The black family has been a topic of study in many disciplines—history, literature, the visual arts and film studies, sociology, anthropology, and social policy. Its representation, identity, and diversity have been reverenced, stereotyped, and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time. The black family knows no single location since family reunions and genetic-ancestry searches testify to the spread of family members across states, nations, and continents. Not only are individual black families diasporic, but Africa and the diaspora itself have been long portrayed as the black family at large. While the role of the black family has been described by some as a microcosm of the entire race, its complexity as the “foundation” of African American life and history can be seen in numerous debates over how to represent its meaning and typicality from a historical perspective—as a slave or free, as patriarchal or matriarchal/matrifocal, as single-headed or dual-headed household, as extended or nuclear, as fictive kin or blood lineage, as legal or common law, and as black or interracial, etc. A variation appears, as well, in discussions on the nature and impact of parenting, childhood, marriage, gender norms, sexuality, and incarceration. The family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present.
Starting the conversation with kids about Black history can be easy. Ask them the question, “do you know how Black history month started?” Explain, “Each February, we have a Black history month celebration because Black history documents the lives of black people from the past to the present.” This will pique their interest, and you can start incorporating some learnings and teachings. I have discovered a few important ways to help teach our kids to celebrate all year:
Start with Africa and not slavery – History teaches us to focus on slavery, but Black history started in Africa. We have to teach our kids this critical fact.
Select a Black historian to study each week - Focus on one leader a month and learn something new about that historian weekly. My husband and I incorporate teachings when we eat dinner with the kids.
Travel: Travel to places that have historical black leaders in the center. Atlanta, Georgia, Washington, DC, and Birmingham, Alabama are just a few.
Transparency: Teach your kids that black history isn’t a ‘feel-good’ history. It’s essential to learn the truth about the history of African American people.
Incorporate other months – Months like Women’s history month can teach about women in Black history.
Read Books that focus on Black kids - Look for books that teach the importance of Black history. A good read is: Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity- By Beverly Daniel Tatum. Another great book is: The Story of Ruby Bridges - By Ruby Bridges
Most Black history celebrations will be socially distanced this year. A great way to learn from home is by watching a movie, series, or documentary.
Movies to watch with kids:
What it teaches kids: Voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. Director: Ava DuVernay
When They See Us
What it teaches kids:
The ugly side of civil rights. Five teens from Harlem become trapped in a nightmare when they're falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park. Based on the true story.
Creator: Ava DuVernay
What it teaches kids:
Self-Defense. It is a dramatized account of the story of The Black Panther Party.
Director: Mario Van Peebles
What it teaches kids:
Courage, ingenuity, and tenacity for women. It's a movie based on Harriet Tubman's life and escapes from slavery and transformation into one of America's greatest heroes, who freed hundre