Black History Month is an opportunity to teach children about the beauty of diversity in our community. Planning ahead for school lessons or a family focus is essential for our path forward, together. Incorporating these themes into daily living is important throughout the year but February highlights women and men whose stories may have been ignored in previous versions of history.
Helping students recognize their potential by identifying with local leaders and national heroes is just one reason to celebrate all month long. Here are three ways to prepare for Black History Month, along with why these methods matter for our next generation.
Visit the library — Books, illustrations and identity: Every child should be able to see successful adults who look like them or recognize that others who do not are also in leadership roles. Reading together is an excellent way to introduce new characters who loom large in children’s imaginations. Knowing their stories through titles written with young readers in mind makes history more approachable. Characters are often shown as children themselves, which presents a relatable angle. From Ruby Bridges in the fight for public school integration to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s quest for sharing scientific knowledge, children observe their contributions from a unique vantage point.
Show engagement across society: Representation matters. While Black athletes, musicians and movie stars have excelled, those professions are not the only paths to success. Amplify the picture by introducing more content. Expand lessons to include Kehinde Wiley’s art, Katherine Goble Johnson’s contributions to mathematics beyond the movie “Hidden Figures” and Jason Reynolds’ “Ghost” series of novels for older children. Find authors, artists, scientists and social leaders involved in different careers and projects.
Find local ways to make it matter: Broader horizons make for better global citizens with local impact. Connecting to a local cause or organization forms partnerships through advocacy efforts, even if that means just one family helping an organization. Find out about The Black Justice Fund, made possible in part by the Arnall Family Foundation, for direct improvements underway in Oklahoma City. Click here for 10 ways to celebrate Black History Month from local attorney Alicia Currin-Moore. TravelOK.com also features a list of landmarks and places to visit with Black history in mind.
If you have ways to celebrate Black History Month that more Oklahomans should try, please email us so we can share them on our Facebook page.