What Black History Month Means to Me

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“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” This Carter G. Woodson quote perfectly sums up what Black History Month means to me.

I grew up in a multi-generational home that included my grandmother. My grandmother was born and raised in Georgia in the early 1900s. She moved to New Jersey during the period known as The Great Migration. My father, who was 15 years older than my mother, was born in Florida in the late 30s. Growing up, every month was Black History Month!

Black History Month to Me Before Kids

My family made sure that my education was supplemented with black history. In school, there was very little black history taught, beyond the mention of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Sadly, not much has changed since I was in school. Fun fact: did you know that the required 4th grade Virginia Studies curriculum refers to slavery as a “forced work program?!” So it is incumbent upon me as a parent to ensure that my children know the contributions of African-Americans in history, science, the arts, etc.

Black History Month to Me After Kids

For this Black History Month, I will be introducing my middle-school-aged daughter to the PBS Eyes on the Prize series, which documents the civil rights movement in America. This was an annual tradition in my house growing up. I remember as a kid being so struck by the fact all of the events in the documentary had occurred during my parents’ lifetime.

While lessons in black history are on-going in my house, I like to think of Black History Month as a chance for the rest of the country to join the party. It’s a chance to dig a little deeper into black history. It’s a time to reflect on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, yes, but it’s also a time to dig into his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” It’s an opportunity to remember Rosa Parks, but then learn more about the year-long Montgomery bus boycott that followed Ms. Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus. This time of year also serves as a reminder to explore the many black history sites in the DC area, both the popular Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and other truly inspiring, yet lesser-known sites.

So how about you DC Moms? How will you be celebrating Black History Month? Comment below with ways you are teaching your children about black history.