Celebrating Black History Month as a Family
Thoughtful Ways to Honor Black History With Your Kids.
The greatest gift we can give our children is education, and Black History Month is a necessary reminder that we must do so actively. The personal stories of talented and life-altering African Americans are shockingly underreported. February is an important opportunity to celebrate and highlight incredible people that have more than earned such recognition.
Introduce your children to the complexity of our nation's history and the many critical contributions of African Americans to society without hesitation. It is a crucial conversation, and it can never start too early. Here are some meaningful ways to ignite conversation, teach your children, and celebrate diversity in a positive way.
In 1915, historian Carter G. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which later declared the second week of February as "Negro History Week" to recognize the contributions of African Americans to our country. The particular week they selected coincides with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (the abolitionist) and Abraham Lincoln, our President during the Civil War, who helped end slavery. Established in 1976, Black History Month "honors the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
Check out books on Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, and other black political and cultural leaders. Your local librarian might be able to help you find treasures like "Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad" by Ellen Levine. As you read the books exploring black history month together, talk openly about diversity, inclusion, and love (another theme for February).
Make a Diversity Collage: I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it was simple, creative, and fun. You simply grab some construction paper, glue, scissors, and a few magazines and/or newspapers. Together, you and your child cut out as many "different-looking" people as possible to create a collage. If available, you can also build your collage with different people as well as symbols that stand for peace, love, and inclusion (example: hearts, peace signs, hugs, etc.).
Talk about Eggs: This is really simple and hands-on as well as very effective for children. All you do is take a brown and a white egg. You talk about the external differences – the shape, color, size, texture, patterns of the shell. Once you have done that, you then crack them open in two separate containers and compare and contrast the inside yolk. Your child will discover that though things look different on the outside, the insides are very similar – just like people.
Celebrate contributions of black people through games and crafts: There are many cultural contributions from black people in our history, so select a few and discuss them with your child and how he or she made the world a better place. A great example is Garrett Morgan, inventor of the traffic light. Play "Red light, Green light" with your child, create your own traffic light made of construction paper, or even have a snack of red, yellow and green bell peppers and hummus.
Eat at an African restaurant: There is a lovely Ethiopian restaurant in Nashville that is kid-friendly and the cuisine is quite different from our norm. Check out your own town for African or African-inspired restaurants (Caribbean, Southern, etc.) and talk to your child about how contributions from people who are culturally diverse make our society better than if everyone was the same.
Each and every weekday during the month, The View covers an incredible African American innovator who has made a meaningful and, in most cases, heartwarming contribution to society. Their selections are creative and powerful, so take inspiration from the show's choices and highlight their amazing accomplishments over dinner. Some of their most inspiring highlights have been children, and it is a unique way to empower your own to make a difference in the world.
Additionally, please check out our blog for more inspiration, and as always, please share your family's highlights by tagging us on Instagram @gethappyly. We love hearing from you!
Download the happyly app for fast access to all of our weekend roundups, frequent blog content, and favorite activities, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country. We want you to spend less time planning and more time playing, so let us help you find your next feel good outing!