Each February, Black History Month honors the history and struggles, and celebrates the triumphs and achievements of black people in the United States and around the world. It reminds us that black people have always been a contributing force in this nation and the world. And while limited to a month, the true goal should be to overcome our historical amnesia and to acknowledge and incorporate black history for what it is. Black history is American History. Black history is World History. Black history is a rich and integral part of our collective history.
While the stories highlighted during this month often focuses on famous and exceptional figures, it is also the contributions of regular people and everyday actions that have also crafted the world we have inherited and continue to make it a better place. It is often those figures that are most relatable, and no less important, and equally missing from the general narrative. Rosa Parks and MLK are unquestioningly important, but we have plenty of room to be enriching our collective knowledge and experience with the thousands of other people and events that have been absent in history textbooks and widely shared media.
Read about people like Shirley Chisolm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and Fannie Lou Hamer, a Black activist from Mississippi who launched Freedom Farm Cooperative, and learn more about the thriving Black Wall Street in Tulsa in the 1900s. Read or listen to “1619″ Project. Enjoy black authors Black authors in your reading list. Visit BlackPast.org for an extensive list of other notable Black figures. Dig into these collections, exhibits, and resources, or if you are an educator, these educational resources for teachers.
If you are as much a viewer as a reader, look for movies celebrating joy and resilience, documentaries from PBS, and TV shows to stream and dive into. Take in wonderful performances by epic black leads like Lupita Nyong'o, casts like award-winning Octavia Spencer in "Self Made", inspired by Madam C.J. Walker, the first African American self-made millionaire. Find Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” a drama about a real-life group of Black teens falsely accused of a vicious attack; “Loving,” a film about an interracial couple whose marriage became the basis of a landmark Supreme Court case; and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Viola Davis as the groundbreaking Southern blues singer. Finally, do not leave out outstanding comic performances like Tiffany Haddish's 'They Ready". And if you want to learn from someone who is blazing a path while being an absolutely delightful human educating others about the magic of plants, check out Alexis Nikole Nelson.
If you love music, celebrate and listen to music created by Black artists, for example, on Spotify’s “Black History is Now” or Amazon's 'Black History Month". Find classics Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles as well as current recording stars like H.E.R., Anderson .Paak and Andra Day.
Beyond learning and incorporating black history and contributions as an integral part of our collective experience, we need to recognize that learning without action is meaningless. Until black history, black contributions, and black lives matter in equal measure, there continue to be real consequences for our neighbors, our society, and us as individuals.
As we mourn yet another tragic, violent, preventable killing of one of our neighbors at the hands of police this month, we need to not only ask hard questions, but be willing to actively push for changes in policies, practices, and our own perceptions so we can create a reality where we all have an equal chance at life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This month and throughout the year, Donate Good Stuff strives to partner with and follow people and innovative and exceptional organizations that are working to further black health, education, rights and community development, who are making tomorrow's history today, and are working toward a more vibrant, rich, and equitable world for future generations. We must work hand in hand, actively, toward equity and equality.
Not just this month, Black Lives Matter.
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