Black History Month
In his 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace, actor Morgan Freeman once called Black History Month “Ridiculous”, saying, “I don’t want Black History Month. Black History is American History”. I can’t say that I disagree.
As an annual observation, Black History Month is less than ideal. It gives the misleading impression that our history can be encompassed and retold in 28 days or less (29 in a leap year!). Conceptually, Black History Month may also reinforce the notion that February is the only time that Black history can/should be discussed, and that this history is somehow subpar or less relevant because of its relegation to one month of the year. Furthermore, I fear that a 28-day mentality may make some people lazy (sorry); relying on the same slave and civil rights narratives every year to commemorate our past, instead of digging deeper to find African Americans in the histories of aviation, architecture, medicine, etc. But what is the current alternative?
While the knowledge base of African American history is ever-expanding (with the help of scholars such as Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), our history books are not. Our children don’t “feel the fire” so to speak. The vast majority of our leaders are gone. So what prompts us to remember? As adults, perhaps we have become complacent or emotionally divided; hesitating to ask our children’s instructors about the implementation of Black History in the classroom. Many of us intend to teach the lessons at home, but find that work, school, carpool, soccer, church–and just living–get in the way. Many of us, when we do sit down with our children, find ourselves met with the “You’re so old-fashioned” attitude; children who think that because we aren’t marching anymore, the struggle is over. But not during National Black History Month.
Black History Month prompts us to take the Bessie Coleman books off of the shelf and explore her life with our children. It is a time when blatant commercialism works in our favor–when beautiful brown faces grace main-stream media ads for Coca-Cola, Cheerios, and McDonald’s. It is a time when we can watch Nick Jr. videos, go to festivals, and visit exhibitions that celebrate us–because they are available! It’s exciting. So, for me, Black History Month is still necessary. It is a special time when we are reminded to celebrate; not just the history of our people, but the present of our people, the beauty of our people, and the enduring strength of our people.
Don’t get me wrong. I look forward to the day when we, as a nation, outgrow Black History Month; When the stories of presidents and paupers, natives and immigrants, cowboys and the encamped are told with equal frequency, truth, and perspective; A time when America can embrace the tales yet untold and find a common humanity in the shadows of the not-so-glorious days. But until that time, even in its imperfection, I will celebrate and find joy in Black History Month. I invite you to do the same.
Peace & Blessings,
Black History Video of the Week:
Origins of Black History Month Presented by History.com
Nick Jr. Black History Month Cards.
Eight cards in each set. Each card with a photograph and a brief biography.
Athletes Set – Includes Jackie Robinson, Venus & Serena Williams, Muhammad Ali, and Flo-Jo.
Artists Set – Includes Toni Morrison, Sidney Poitier and Ella Fitzgerald.
Innovators Set – A little light in this department; only 4 cards that include George Washington Carver and Mae Jemison.
Political Leaders and Activists Set – Includes Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, and Shirley Chisholm.
Black History Month Coloring Pages
Black History Month Word Searches
Sixteen separate searches that feature s/heroes such as Jackie Robinson, Sojourner Truth, Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou.
Black History Month Playlist
Throughout the year, I make playlists for our car to keep us entertained and musically educated. Here is our 2014 Black History Month Playlist. What’s on yours?
- Lift Every Voice and Sing – Women of the Calabash
- Blowin’ In the Wind – Bob Dylan
- A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
- Day-O – (Banana Boat) – Harry Belafonte
- Yes I Can – Sammy Davis, Jr.
- To Be Young, Gifted and Black – Nina Simone
- Say It Loud–I’m Black and I’m Proud – James Brown
- People Get Ready – Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions
- Sanford and Son – Quincy Jones
- Respect Yourself – The Staple Singers
- Everyday People – Sly and the Family Stone
- Theme from “Shaft” – Isaac Hayes
- What’s Goin’ On – Marvin Gaye
- Someday We’ll All Be Free – Donny Hathaway
- Shining Star – Earth Wind and Fire
- Love Train – The O’Jays
- What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston