During Black History Month we learn about and reflect on the legacies of black Americans who have left their mark the United States. It is also a time when we bring to the forefront the black experiences that have shaped the country. These experiences include slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and racial injustice — as well as the fight for justice and equality that has produced some of our greatest leaders and change makers. These historical realities must be considered not only because they are a part of our history, but because they continue to impact communities and lives today. To celebrate Black History Month, here are a few ways we can take inspiration from the past while continuing to learn:
Continue the legacy of those who have fought for social justice
Support black activists of the past and present by learning about, and getting involved in, their community efforts. Wondering where to start? Check out podcasts like Pod Save the People, or scholarly journals like Race and Justice, which explore social justice, activism and culture periodically.
In addition to getting informed, you can also participate in hands-on experiences that make an impact on education, housing, and other causes that benefit those in the community. These activities can include tutoring at an after-school program or volunteering at a shelter.
Bring the conversation about history and its impact into your life
An important way to support the black community is by supporting their art. Be intentional about discovering the community’s painters, musicians, filmmakers, and authors. Choose a book by a black author for your book club, such as Red at the Bone by Jaqueline Woodson and The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Alternately, you can watch some of the amazing television shows, films, and musicians that reflect on the black experience.
Another way listen to the conversation about the black experience is by making room for those with stories to share. This can be done by organizing an event with a panel of black speakers sharing their perspectives on topics such as work, gender, and more.
Help to create opportunities for those in the black community
One way to support the community is by extending mentorship experiences to young black people. This affords students and recent graduates invaluable connections as they transition into higher education and the professional realm.
Another way is to bolster black-owned small businesses with your patronage. Make an effort to discover your neighborhood’s local designers, chefs, and business owners of all kinds, and to support them all year round.
There are countless ways to celebrate Black History Month while acting on much-needed social progress. In addition to learning about black history and present-day experiences, this month is an opportunity to participate in activities that directly benefit the community.