A New Twist on Black History Month

by Myeisha Essex

black history

Each year, we celebrate Black History Month by remembering iconic leaders of the past who have helped mold and contribute to the African-American experience. This year, maybe it’s time to put a new spin on a traditional celebration.

I read an article by the New York Times that suggested new ways to teach Black history through the voices of ordinary people. As Oprah would say, I had an Aha! moment. It was so amazing and I was motivated to take a different look on the way my history is told.

I decided I had to share. Read the tips below and let us know what other ways we can put a twist on Black History Month.

1. Find New Heroes

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Malcolm X are well-known Black heroes that school-age children learn about each February, every year. However, our history is broader and it expands across multiple disciplines, including music, sciences and academia. The article suggests using oral history sites like StoryCorps Griot and the National Visionary Leadership Project to search for new interesting stories and heroes.

2. Interview the Heroes Among You

Invite people to tell the stories of their lives and archive it. You can make an audio recording or write a feature story, either way you are documenting more history. There are plenty of people living today that have untold stories in their hearts, including family members, neighbors and community leaders. The article suggests choosing an era or an issue highlighted in Black History Month collection of archival Times articles.

3. Listen to the Voices in the Crowd

This step requires you to do your own reporting. Instead of simply reading a textbook, listen to interviews and do outside research so you can develop your own point of view on historic stories. Your perspective may change based on your age, background or location. The article suggests using the Multiple Point of View graphic organizer to start your reasearh.

4. Redefine “Black History”

Add what you think is missing under the “Black History Month” umbrella. You can add history about African-Americans in sports, the arts, business and fashion. The article suggests finding new history stories that broaden our knowledge and view of the African-American experience.

5. Look for Echoes

They say history always repeats itself, and it’s true. There are many issues that our nation struggled with years ago that still affect us today. Draw parallels from the two-time periods and discuss what’s changed, what is the same and how we can move forward in the years to come.

How do you plan to celebrate Black History Month this year?

  • mpz

    i love it!

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    I celebrate black history everyday, business as usual for me.


    The thing that bugs me about “Black History Month”. is that it basically amounts to African American history, and not Black history overall. People act as if our history only began in 1619 or 1555. Our history stems back to the dawn of humanity. Our history also extends to the 4 corners of the globe.

    We need to learn more than just about MLK or X.

  • LN

    LOVE this! YES! Black people are constantly progressing, we need to update Black history.

  • http://defendingmoney.wordpress.com Marketing Gimmicks

    There has been kinda of a silent hush on Black History Month…but it’s true Black History is truly American history. History that Black, whites and everything and between should know.

  • FK21

    Carter G. Woodson created the holiday with the hope that it eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history. It’s a wonder we still feel the need to celebrate it. You’d think in 2013 achievements by Blacks have become an integral part of American and global history. Just my thoughts.

    Plus, the wording (BHM) itself is kinda polically incorrect. Black is a color and pretty exclusive. If anything, I believe we should call it African-American Heritage/History Month, Panafrican Heritage Month, or African Heritage Month. When I say African I mean it in a broader sense to mean all people of African descent not just Continental Africans. I know some of us shun the idea of being called Africans but essentially if you’re Black, you’re of African descent, therefore you’re African. Just like Continental Asians and Asians living in the Western hemisphere are Asians, I almost never hear people using the word Yellow when they refer to people of Asian descent.

    Anyways, I believe we shouldn’t just talk about it (BHM), but be about it. I support business by Blacks, keep up with scientific achievements by Blacks, listen to the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and make it a must to visit the Motherland and other nations. Black history should be a 24/7 and 365 affair not just limited to a month.

  • DownSouth Transplant

    Finally teach my kids to memorize the black national anthem * said in a whisper shamefully*

  • Rue

    Wait, there’s a black national anthem,? *asked shamefully*

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