Celebrate Black History Month All Year Long

By: Cassidy Smith

Each year since 1976, we recognize Black History Month as a time to celebrate and reflect on the notable contributions of Black figures of the past and present. The celebration of Black history month began as a time to be “aware of [this] struggle for freedom and equal opportunity” [1] and since has become a chance to put aside differences to take pride in the success of one another. Going beyond who and what history books define as important allows us to have a say in the kind of boundless future we as a people want to build together. 

However, supporting the Black community is not limited to the month of February. There are countless meaningful events that continue to promote a sense of togetherness in our own backyard. Join us as we round up and highlight some of the best ways to celebrate all year long. 

Annual Festivities

For the eighth successful year, the Orlando Mayor’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commission presented their annual “MLK Concert: I Am Enough, You Are Enough, Together We Shall Overcome” at The Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando. In this formal night of tribute over 400 singers, poets, conductors and more gathered in song and performance from across the country to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This event is perfect for music lovers of all ages and admission is on a first-come, first-serve donation basis. For more information on events like this throughout the year be sure to visit the Dr. Phillips calendar here.

Throughout February the DC Public Library hosted their “34th Annual Black Film Festival”. Each Tuesday in the main auditorium the Central Library in Northwest DC showcased cinema that celebrates the triumph, freedom, and history of the Black community. With blockbuster titles like Disney’s “Black Panther” and Ava DuVernay’s “13th”, it’s no wonder that this event has been such a hit. Be sure to stay connected with the DC Public Library to discover next year’s films. 

Getting connected in your community

Food creates community as it showcases culture from all walks of life. And with the free mobile app “Black Foodie Finder” locating local Black owned catering services and restaurants is just at your fingertips. “BFF” partners with small owned businesses to curate over 6 unique categories of dining and speciality foods. There’s more to explore as in app forums connect connoisseurs to discuss their experiences sampling some of the best local cuisine. Uncover your new favorite go-to fare here.

Museums put preservation into motion and perspective as we interact with collective heritage. Visiting historical treasures of the past remind us of discoveries that once brought community together. While DC boast the largest museum “documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history” at the The National Museum of African American History and Culture [2], many museums across the US have exhibits dedicated solely to Black history. Notable locations include the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center in Chicago, Illinois, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and the Museum of African American History in Boston, Massachusetts.

Making an Impact From Home

Leading an active life can allow for little down time to physically travel to observe and celebrate Black history, however education can happen from anywhere. Podcasts as well as audio books make for a great way to learn new things with minimal time commitment. Can’t miss podcasts include Code switchBlack History Buff, and Brown & Black

Can’t make it to the DC Public Library’s film fest? Consider streaming an award-winning documentary or docu-series on a major platform like Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu. Documentary style films can be a great way to gain clarity while enjoying purposeful storytelling. Titles that highlight more modern topics in the Black community include:

High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America – Netflix

Good Hair – YouTube

Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans – Kanopy

Being intentional in efforts to support diversity and inclusion allow us to better comprehend the perspective of our colleagues and peers while amplifying their voices. By maintaining momentum in uplifting the Black community, we recognize and pay homage to one of the most extensive and foundational cultures in our country. Although Black history in America has been a tale of trials and tribulations it is as important as ever to understand that by celebrating diversity we are celebrating that each and every one of us has something unique to contribute to our great nation and the connections we make with our fellow citizens each and every day.

Footnotes:

[1] Black History Month: What is it and why do we need it?, Alex Tedeneke January 27, 2022, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/black-history-month-what-is-it-and-why-do-we-need-it/

[2] https://www.si.edu/unit/african-american-museum

 

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