Today’s blog post is a guest feature by freelance writer Ariana Robinson. In her post, Ariana shares a few ways we can continue to celebrate Black History and support Black Americans beyond Black History Month.
Wrapping up this February, I want to wish everyone a Happy Black History Month– but our celebration doesn’t end here. Before we dive in, I want to express gratitude for the amount of information available to all of our generations and for the access to Black voices on a variety of platforms.
Mirroring the physical evidence of the tragedies that have happened within the past year, I am reminded that struggles and injustices still continue. Yet, I am equally as proud of the amount of resilience and action being taken to support Black communities. I am confident the volume of Black voices will only continue to grow.
As an avid social media user, I’ve come across so much information (most of it backed up with credible sources) about Black History that has never been mentioned in my public school education. Almost routinely, I have always been taught about famous activists like Rosa Parks, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, and Malcolm X.
But what about the countless others that have made strides in our history?
HOW DID BLACK HISTORY MONTH START?
A tradition that is historically annual, February serves as an outlet to explore Black History Month– a time to amplify and admire the achievements, the impact, and most of all, the expansion in the meaning of Black heritage.
According to the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), Black History Month began as early as 1915, when its founder, Carter G. Woodson, organized the active ASNLH to promote the knowledge of Black life and its historical significance beyond an exhibit that catered to only a few thousand people.
Included in the history, Woodson established Negro History Week in February 1926 to highlight published Black achievements. With the acknowledgment of Negro History Week in schools during the 1930s, Woodson additionally implemented a program that extended education to adults throughout the year so an annual celebration wouldn’t be necessary anymore.
In the 1960s, “Black History Month” replaced “Negro History Week” as the ASNLH used its influence to institutionalize the celebration of a week into a month. Woodson recognized that Black history was too rich to be crammed into the shortest month of the year.
Later in 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. Ford said it was important for Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
SIX WAYS TO CONTINUE THE CELEBRATION OF BLACK HISTORY
In honor of Woodson’s intentions for Black History Month, one of our goals should be to celebrate Black culture and heritage all year in order to normalize the prominence of Black life in everyday American living.
Here are six ways you can continue to celebrate Black History:
1. Learn more about Black history in all variations.
Integrate more knowledge about Black History and the African Diaspora beyond well-known Black activists and figures, especially in fields that you are interested in. Visit a Black History or Civil Rights Museum, such as the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.
You can also listen to podcasts about Black culture and read more books by Black writers. The Detroit Podcast Festival is a great way to discover podcasts. Spotify also features a variety of Black podcast shows.
2. Support Black-Owned businesses.
When you purchase from Black-owned businesses or share businesses through media, the support goes beyond goods and services. You are also strengthening Black communities. Supporting Black businesses help close the racial wealth gap, too.
3. Discover and support Black creatives.
There is a spectrum of Black artists and creatives to support (especially those who are Detroit-natives)! I have found artists through social media (via hashtags), blogs, magazines, news outlets, and art museums.
4. Engage with your community.
Learn more about a Black organization in your community and support it by becoming a member or making a donation. You can also sign up to mentor Black youth or spend time with Black elders.
5. Discover and engage with Black content creators.
To accommodate social distancing, many Black content creators have begun engaging in healthy conversations about Black history and other social justice issues on social media. Comment on and share their posts to continue the discussion.
Here are a few Black content creators who share insightful content about Black culture: Piper Carter, Rachel Cargle, Praying with Our Feet, Patricia A. Taylor, Black Lives Matter, DeRay McKeeson, and Charles M. Blow.
6. Connect with your family.
Try to connect with your extended family and trace your family history. Or make your own timeline by documenting any learned history through photography, videos, or writing.
I’ve realized how important it is to research and reflect on the information that is given to us. We have the power to positively change our narrative, especially if the representation is flat-out mistaken.
Ariana Robinson is a freelance writer and fashion & lifestyle enthusiast. As she enjoys studying contemporary and street fashion, she is an advocate for sustainability and community organization. Ariana resides in Saginaw and frequents metro Detroit for business. Follow her on Instagram @subtle_black_ for style and other inspiration! (Photo courtesy Ariana Robinson)
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