It’s 2014 and Black History Month has officially arrived. A brainchild of Carter G. Woodson, what began as Negro History week has grown into the month long celebration we’re all familiar with. Yes, it’s the shortest month of the year, but according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, it held great significance to the founders.
“It is commonly said that [Woodson] selected February to encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played a prominent role in shaping black history, namely Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th and the 14th, respectively. He [also] chose them for reasons of tradition. Since Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, the black community, along with other Republicans, had been celebrating the fallen President’s birthday. And since the late 1890s, black communities across the country had been celebrating Douglass’. [Woodson] was asking the public to extend their study of black history, not to create a new tradition.”
Not to contradict our forefathers on the last point, but creating new traditions/practices may not be such a bad idea in this day and age. Typically, schools, TV networks, various organizations, etc., celebrate the collective cultural achievements and contributions of our people in a variety of ways – some meaningful, others not so much. What are your thoughts on Black History Month? Do you commemorate it? If so, how? If not, the following ideas may be of interest to you:
1. Let You Be You
Don’t let anyone define or limit you due to gender or race. We continue to break new ground in areas that others (and even Black folks ourselves) believed we could not tread. This month, go ahead and ponder upon things you’ve deprived yourself of based on imposed, false “cultural limitations”, then make a plan to fulfill those wishes.
2. Make A Cultural Pride Scrapbook
Sure, this is something you can do every February, or maybe this is the month you can get one started. Scrapbooks are marvelous not only because they’re so dang fun, they also help to push the boundaries of our creativity. The book can include all types of rich historical facts, quotes, photos – you name it. Tech oriented folks can design cultural fabulousness using assorted applications on their laptop.
3. Educate Yourselves
As was the hope of Carter G. Wilson and his associates, Black History Month was developed as a way for us to familiarize ourselves with the remarkable, extensive history of Blacks and America. African American Inventors and Black Inventions 101 are pretty enlightening. I’ll insert my opinion once more by recommending enriching our lives with historical & modern knowledge about Africa (which can be done in a number of ways, but wouldn’t a trip be wonderrific?).
4. Pray & Give Thanks To Our Ancestors:
The lyrics of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” come to mind… We got a long road to true ‘equality’ but after 400-plus years of brutal mental and physical tyranny, not only do we still stand – we thrive.
We have our ancestors to thank for that.
5. Read, Read, Read!
This eclectic list below is a mix of modern and classic work:
The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Joy DeGruy
Ain’t I A Woman?, bell hooks,
Annie Allen, Gwendolyn Brooks
Before You Suffocate Your Own Self Fool, Danielle Evans
Half Of A Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day, Pearl Cleage
Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley
The Other Side of Paradise, Staceyann Chin
Our Kind of People, Lawrence Otis Graham
Value In the Valley, Iyanla Vanzant
White Teeth, Zadie Smith
The King of Cats, the life and Times of Adam Layton Powell, Jr., Wil Haygood