Over the years, I have been asked by friends and colleagues: “Why should we celebrate Black History Month?”
Each time, I’m reminded that the collaborative efforts of Blacks in the United States, and throughout the world, continue to be a mystery to those around me. So, when I am asked this question, I share my polished, studious response, in an effort to appease their curiosity:
Black History Month in the United States is a way to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans within our country. The celebration originated in 1926, between Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, and Fredrick Douglass’ birthday on February 14. It originally was celebrated for just one week and was called “Negro History Week,” as a way to recognize the important contributions of Black Americans.
Black History Month was created because it was not being taught in the school system. After increased popularity, President Gerald Ford in 1976 extended the dates of celebration from a week to a full month on a federal level in the United States.
And, in 1995, Canada recognized and began celebrating Black History Month, following the initiative of the Honorable Jean Augustine, Canada’s first black Member of Parliament.
As I said, my response is studious, but it truly does not reflect my feelings about the importance of Black History.
The Importance of Black History Month
Black History is inspiring. It’s a reflection of perseverance, high intellect, collaboration, creativity, continuous love for others even in the darkest of times, and an achievement of excellence.
I have fought to instill these attributes into the three amazing children I have been honored to raise. As our family moves through our daily lives, I share with them the contributions of Blacks, which have allowed each of us to live comfortably in the world today.
5 Black Inventors and Opportunities to Talk About Them With Your Child
Blacks have contributed in science, math, technology, politics, engineering, medicine, entertainment and more. The contribution list goes on and on and touches every aspect of our lives! Here are 5 Black inventors you can teach your child about during your daily life:
1. Each time I step into an elevator, I share about Alexander Miles. In 1887, he received a patent for his design that improved the automatically opening and closing of elevator doors.
2. Each time I open my refrigerator, I share about Frederick McKinley Jones, who invented the portable refrigerator
3. Each time I iron my clothes, I share about Sarah Boone. In 1892, she developed the curved design of the ironing board that allows us to easily iron our clothes.
4. Each time I turn on my home security system, I share about Marie Van Brittan Brown, who in 1966 invented a system with a camera and a microphone.
5. And each time I stop at a stoplight, I share about Garrett Morgan. In 1923, he developed the three-light traffic light.
Black History Month Can Bring Us Together
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
Black History should unite us. In today’s climate, Black History Month gives each of us an opportunity to learn, share and communicate in a way that can reunite our country.
How to Learn About and Celebrate Black History Month
Over the years, my family and I have participated in Black History Month Celebrations, read a variety of books and watched documentaries. This year will look a little different, as many celebrations have been cancelled due to social distancing. However, learning doesn’t have to be put on pause. Check out the books and podcasts below, and then share your learnings with others!
Tip: Your local community may have some virtual learning options to join, such as guest speakers and live broadcasts, as well. Start by asking your local library!
I do hope this inspires everyone to study Black History not only in the month of February but each and every day of the year!
Black History Educational Resources
Book Recommendations from our Friends at Random House