Black History Month is a time for America to celebrate the achievements of African Americans to this country. Yes! we advocate celebrating BHM 365 days a year, however February is the time that we take every year to look at the accomplishments of the people of African decent in America. Negro History Week was initiated by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a graduate from Harvard, in 1926. At that time, Blacks were rarely if every recognized for their contribution to American society or even seen as counterparts to the building of the nation but they were rather seen as inferior and second class citizens. Dr. Woodson, noticed the absence of Blacks from history and established Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) in 1915. He chose the second week in February to celebrate Negro History Week because it marked the celebration of the birthdays of Federick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Woodson felt that these two men influenced and contributed to the upward movement of African Americans.
Here are five things that you and your child can do to explore the culture:
1. Visit the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Exposition Park-
2. Do an authors study on Nikki Giovanni- she has written books such as Lincoln and Douglass An American Friendship, Rosa, or Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
3. Do a study on Black women who impacted America– Wilma Rudolph, Diana Ross, Madame CJ Walker, Coretta Scott King, Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Cisely Tyson, Josephine Baker and Dorothy Dandridge to name a few.
4. Look at these major moments in history:
The Harlem Renaissance was a time where literature, arts, and music flourished from artists such as Zora Neale Huston, Langston Hughes and James Baldwin.
The Civil Rights Movement,marked a time where Blacks marched for basic human rights, with activist such as Harry Belafonte, Malcom X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Marvin Gaye, Muhammad Ali, and Sidney Portier.
The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, a revolutionary group, with activist Huey P. Newton leading the troops.They implemented many programs in Black communities such as the breakfast program, an official newspaper and the 10 point program. Even my mom remembers getting breakfast from the Black Panthers in Harlem, New York
The Cosby Show- a show that started in 1984 about the Huxtable family, an affluent African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York. The Cosby Show was the first show that illustrated a Black Family as professionals, college graduates, having a solid family infrastructure. The show is replete with fun facts, figures, artist and the like.
5. Explore the culture and answer these fun facts
-What is Kwaanza and who started it, and why?
-Who started Jazz, Blues, and Hip Hop?
-Name Three Black Inventors and their invention.
-Who is Walter Dean Myers and Romare Bearden?
-Name Three Historically Black Colleges
Take a class at the Debbie Allen Dance Studios or Lula Washington Dance Theater.http://www.debbieallendanceacademy.com/ – http://www.lulawashington.org/
Have you had some soul food lately- If you’re in Los Angeles, try out:
M & M’s Soul Food,
Naturals Soul Food-http: www.naturalsoulfood.org/menu.php
The Serving Spoon-www.theservingspoon.net
Chef Marilyn’s Soul Food Express-www.chefmarilyns.com
Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles-www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com
Try out Southern Girl Desserts- www.southerngirldesserts.com (They specialize in southern baked goods)
This list is by no means exhaustive but it does give you a starting point. Have fun and let us know what you did and what you learned about African Americans.