Well, it’s the last day of February—the month we take to especially honor and celebrate the heritage and history of African Americans. In the past I’ve written about why to celebrate Black History Month, and some ideas for how. My favorite article for this month remains one written a few years ago by my dear friend and critique partner, YA author Sandra Barnes–check it out here.
This year, while we honored this month at our school, I’m a bit on the late side for sharing ideas for February here. But then I realized—we don’t have to stop celebrating Black History (or any cultural heritage) once this month is over! For me, I am continually seeking ways to learn more about cultures and histories that I’m not as familiar with but that are such crucial parts of both our nation and the heritage for many people close to me, including Black History.
So here are 3 simple ways I thought of to keep learning and celebrating as this year goes on.
As a teacher and a writer, I continue to learn of new authors I didn’t know of before, particularly authors of color. In studying poetry and literary novels with my students, I’ve come to appreciate African American writers like Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Ralph Ellison. If you prefer more recent Christian fiction, try Kim Cash Tate, Claudia Mair Burney (I’ve only read Zora and Nicky of her novels so far, but I loved it, as has everyone I’ve talked to about it), Piper Huguley, or Sandra Barnes.
- Watch Movies
There are lots of great movies dealing with black history, from The Great Debaters to Hidden Figures to Selma to Gifted Hands. It could be interesting to watch some older movies that deal with race relations too, like To Kill a Mockingbird or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and discuss them in relation to today. There are many wonderful documentaries out there as well, like Eyes on the Prize, which we watched portions of in several classes at our school this year.
- Keep Learning
This connects with “read” above, but for me, this relates more to non-fiction. I’ve been slowly adding to my library of contemporary books about race relations in the past year or so, starting with reading My First White Friend at a friend’s recommendation. White Like Me is on my shelf to read next, and I have just ordered The New Jim Crow after hearing it recommended multiple times. Reading articles online, blog posts, and insights from an interracial Facebook group I have joined also continues to help me better understand and learn from the perspectives and life experiences of those who don’t look like me. We may not always agree, and even people from similar backgrounds often have different perspectives and experiences. But without listening to and learning from each other, we will move away from instead of closer to the unity Jesus prayed for and desires for us (John 17:22-23).
So those are my thoughts, of a few ways we can honor and learn about Black History in America all year long. What about you—did you celebrate Black History Month this year? What would you add to this list? I’ve love to hear your insights!