While it’s important to celebrate Black history and culture every month, February is Black History Month and offers a dedicated time to pay attention to the power and strength of the Black community.
Black History Month started with Carter G. Woodson. Author, journalist, historian, and “father of Black history,” he fought for the national recognition of Black stories by founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It was through this organization that he initiated the first celebration of Black History Week in February 1926.
By 1976, President Gerald Ford officially announced the observance of Black History Month, urging all Americans to “recognize the important contribution made to our nation’s life and culture by Black citizens.”
This month’s celebration is a reminder to recognize Black stories and histories that are sometimes overlooked. Even though it’s a short month, there’s so much you can do to show your appreciation for the community.
Here are five meaningful ways to honor and support Black lives and culture this February – and all year round.
Whether you’re craving takeout or need some inspirational art for your walls, support Black History Month and beyond by directly supporting the Black community through local businesses. Spending your money at a Black-owned business is an impactful use of your time (and money), plus you get beautiful art, good food, and the experience of trying something new.
Not sure where to find a Black-owned business in your area? Check out Support Black Owned – you can search for anything from hotels to restaurants and gyms that are Black-owned in your state!
From Black Lives Matter to Black Girls Code, an organization empowering young Black girls to excel in the tech industry, there are so many nonprofits working to create opportunities and support the Black community’s well-being.
Researching can be overwhelming when you don’t have a place to start. This month, Charity Navigator focuses on organizations promoting Black health, education, rights, and community development. You can also check out Every Action to get more information on Black-led nonprofits making an impact.
Donating your time to help out can be just as essential. Find out how you can volunteer for any of the deserving organizations listed above.
If you can’t donate or shop, there’s a free way to show your support for Black History Month. Take time to seek out Black influencers on social media.
Whether it’s on Twitter or Instagram, learn more about influencers with similar interests you might enjoy. While it is important to support Black activists for racial justice, it’s equally essential to support influencers from other creative spaces such as fashion, beauty, art, or personal finance.
How do you show your support beyond just hitting the “Follow” button? Engage with their account by re-sharing their content on your Instagram story and encourage your friends to follow and re-share their content too.
A great way to celebrate Black voices is to honor their stories. Whether you want to learn more about the historical importance of Juneteenth, or you’re looking to branch out with your love of science fiction, there are plenty of titles to check out. Turn the pages of a few of Oprah’s favorites on this list.
Tip: If you want to make reading more Black authors a collaborative effort, start a book club! I host a book club and have encouraged picking more titles by Black authors, whether it be biographical or even fantasy! We recently read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and it was a wonderful book. I’m looking forward to reading more Black authors for every genre.
Talking about racial inequality is not easy. It’s uncomfortable and can sometimes lead to conflict. How do we make it a positive, impactful experience?
Kwame Christian, an author, mediator, and director of the American Negotiation Institute, hosted a Q&A session on LinkedIn where he talked about how to have difficult conversations about race, equality, and justice:
“My motto is: The best things in life are on the other side of a difficult conversation. If we can have the conversation in a better way, we can make meaningful change in the world around us.”
Whether it’s sitting down with your family, friends, or coworkers, take another piece of advice from Christian:
“Be respectful, and use that empathy muscle.”
This Black History Month, take time to appreciate the past, present, and future of Black voices. Most importantly, set yourself up to support and celebrate the community not just for February, but all year long.