Celebrating Black History Month provides an opportunity to learn about Black history and create actionable steps to support the black community. Four hundred years of systematic racial inequality requires a tremendous amount of effort to undo, and there’s still a long way to go.
Fighting for diversity and equal pay for equal work, honoring the spirit of Black History Month year-round, and promoting social justice organizations are a few ways to get started. Push for education and change at home and work. The goal is simple – move forward with awareness and unity.
Take A Look Back–and Forward–at History
To plot the path forward, we have to first understand Black history, how it’s played into the present, and the best way to proceed.
The Founding “Father of Black History Month”
Black History Month originally started with Negro History Week in 1917. During this period, author, journalist, and historian Carter G. Woodson found that American education offered very little about African Americans’ accomplishments.
This filtered history distorted the contributions of African Americans. He knew that equality would only be possible with the power of knowledge. Often called the “Father of Black History Month,” Woodson worked tirelessly to promote black stories and viewpoints.
5 Ways To Honor Black History Month
You can participate in Black History month at home, socially distanced, and in everyday work and life. Spreading knowledge and engaging in discussion is a powerful starting point.
1. Home Education
Parents often steer their child’s education by choosing quality school districts to encourage learning. Many schools will likely have lessons on Black History during this month of celebration. However, if the schools don’t focus enough on African American culture and history, feel free to take matters into your own hands.
Regardless of your children’s age, you can expose them to books, art, music, or documentaries. If they are old enough, they may already be following influential leaders on social media or reading blogs and biographies on Black history. Highlighting the importance of diversity as a family will keep it top of mind.
2. Virtual Events
Though you may be doing your best to avoid crowded areas during the pandemic, you can still safely participate in online events. There are a variety of virtual events lined up for the entire month.
For example, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is hosting virtual events and conversations that spotlight the historical accomplishments of African Americans. All events are free and open to everyone, as long as you register.
The museum’s main event features renowned authors; Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain, who wrote “How To Be An Antiracist” and “Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom,” respectively.
3. Support Black-Owned Businesses
A variety of nonprofits work actively to help the black community, such as SisterLove, Black Girls Code, Black Lives Matter, 100 Black Men of America, National Society of Black Engineers, Campaign Zero, or the NAACP.
You can also make a difference with for-profit businesses, which face additional challenges. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Small Business Credit survey, even black-owned firms with revenues of more than $1 million have difficulties getting funding relative to nonminority-owned firms. Black-owned firms also apply for 10% more new funding than nonminority-owned businesses, but their approval rates are 19% lower.
Given the challenges in getting funding, it’s vital to support black-owned businesses when possible. You can find black-owned brands locally or online through directories.
4. Celebrate Throughout the Year
Black History Month is a sobering reminder of historical atrocities and the work left to improve racial equality. While setting aside a month to honor and educate Americans about Black history is essential, empowering fellow African Americans is more than a 30-day challenge.
As we turn our attention on spreading awareness about Black culture, we can also think of ways to incorporate education and empowerment throughout the year. African American history is a part of history to be recognized daily.
5. Involve the whole family
Don’t limit education to your children only. The whole family should actively participate in open dialogue surrounding Black history and become more knowledgeable of their heritage or for others to better understand the systemic racism the black community has experienced.
Black history and heritage is a vital part of American history. Honoring African American achievements,understanding history, and opening up dialogue, and involving the entire family boosts awareness. Supporting Black-owned businesses and causes also can fuel change.
Together, MoneyLion and partner dfree® aim to provide approachable financial solutions to the African American community. Empowering communities with financial literacy lies at the heart of change. The more progress, the more to celebrate.