It's February! Or more meaningfully referred to as Black History Month in the United States and Canada!
First coined by Carter G. Woodson, or commonly reffered to as the "Father of Black History", in February 1926 by the phrase of "Negro History Week", the concept of educating individuals about Black History only grew to encapsulating the entire duration of Feburary, officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976, and implemented by Cogress on February 11, 1986.
Now, for over 3 decades, the celebration of Black History Month is still reigning strong with a plethora of events and traditions throughout the United States, from local to national levels, to honor and celebrate the very impactful history and accomplishments of Black individuals. From February 1st - but not limited to - February 28th here are six of just the many ways you too can celebrate Black History Month!
1. Support Black-Owned Businesses
By going to black-owned stores and restaurants and buying their services, not only are you increasing their profit - in turn protecting their livelihood and income-, you are further contributing to their visibility and engagement with other potential customers by acquiring their services. From businesses that provide over-the-top body care products, like the vitamin-C Toner by Eve Milan New York that evens out and glows up your face like no other, to restaurants with toe-grippling food that will leave you wanting more, by supporting them, you can likewise benefit by having access to goods that are guaranteed to make you a regular customer. Although you can just search for black-owned businesses local to you, a couple of black-owned businesses (stores, restaurants, etc.) you can support include: skin-care business Pierre Performance, clothing brand Renowned (they have awesome graphic tees!), UnSun Cosmetics (sun protection for all skin tones!), ConditionHer, and Alaffia.
2. Donate to Black-issued campaigns and Organizations
With a lot of issues pressing a lot of Black communities around the United States (racism, poverty, police brutality, etc.), organizations and campaigns aimed at dismantling these disparities often don't have a lot of support/funding to carry out their mission and advocate for black communities. By donating to their causes, however, either in the form of money or time - through volunteering -, your contribution and support to these organizations can help them get steps closer to achieving their goals as you're contributing to the funding of certain programs that are needed to help improve the lives of many black communities. Just a couple of Black-issued campaigns and organizations you can support include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement, the Black Youth Project, Black Girls Code, and local grassroots organizations which might not have a lot of media coverage on their aims.
3. Read Literature by Black Authors
Reading books conducted by Black authors can serve as a gateway to not only the storytelling perspectives of black characters throughout a wide array of genres and time periods, which enriches your insights and breaks down stereotypes along the way, they can also serve as a general overview and introduction to the - often overlooked yet amazing - literary works written by Black authors. Some examples of notable Black authors, of whom to read their work, include Octavia E. Butler, Toni Morrison, Tiffany D. Jackson, Alice Walker, Akwaeke Emezi, C.L. Clark, Zakiya Dalila Harris, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, Tracy Deonn, and Talia Hibbert. The Noname Book Club, an online community dedicated to uplifting POC voices through highlighting their literary works, also has a list of Black-Owned bookshops across the U.S. to research support!
4. Become educated about African-American History in the United States
The history of African-Americans and it's acknowledgment is often a very controversial issue; not many people want to look into history and dive deep into the horrors that Black people have had to endure at the hands of white colonizers for centuries. And it's this obliviousness that still results in the structural and systematic racism that is still prevalent to this day. However, as the "Father of Black History" stated: "If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” By dismissing and not acknowledging the horrific history of the experiences of Black People under the hands of oppressors, you're likewise dismissing the benefits and the accomplishments (inventions, cultural impacts) that Black People and their predecessors have made after being brought to the United States. Allowing yourself to be open-minded and taking the time to actually dive deep into the history of African-American history provides a more in-depth comprehension into the profound impacts of African-Americans, that has shaped the way today's American society, while facing and rising above oppositions like blatant discrimination and racism in everyday life. Some sources (sites, movies) you can go to to learn more about Black history include BlackPast, National Archives, The 1619 Project, and much more!
5. Learn about Notable African-American Figures who have made big Impacts
At some point in your life, you've probably heard/learned about some of the world's most notable Black figures, like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., but have you heard of Ida B. Wells? The innovative journalist and one of the founders of the NAACP? Or have you heard of Garret Morgan? The inventor of the Automatic traffic light? Chances are, you've probably not, and that is a big problem when it comes to discussing important Black figures and their impactful contributions to society. Simply highlighting and focusing most of the spotlight on "famous" Black figures and their accomplishments, further deducts from the recognition that other "lesser-known" notable Black figures deserve. By doing this, we might as well be dismissing their accomplishments - which have become so common in everyday life - like the invention of the automatic elevator by Alexander Miles. To learn more about impressive Black figures, you can research or visit BlackPast.org for a more in-depth look at their contributions to American society!
6. Visit Black Historical Sites and Museums
Through an artistic style in the portrayal of crucial American history, Black Historical Sites and Museums serve as a visual tool to depict a first-hand view of the past and struggles of Black individuals throughout history, but in a more modern and softened tone. Some of the most famous sites to visit to learn about Black History include the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, California, African Meeting House in Boston, Massachusetts, Beale Street Historic District in Memphis, Tennessee, and so much more!