February is Black History Month, which for many people means revisiting the stories of black leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Harriet Tubman.
While those stories are important and deserve a place in American schools, there are many more ways kids and adults can engage with black history and culture, ways that honor both the historic role black people have played in the country’s past and support black individuals contributing to society today.
Here are a few meaningful ways to celebrate Black History Month.
Black History Month is all about education, but few students get beyond the basics in the short 28-day month. Dig deeper by visiting a black history or civil rights museum, where you can seek out information on lesser known figures or aspects of common history that may not be as well known. Or watch a documentary or pick up a biography on a historical black figure who doesn’t get as much love in the classroom.
Support modern justice
A number of nonprofit organizations work year-round, not just in February, to combat ongoing forms of racial injustice, from the overt like police brutality to issues with less visibility like redlining or food deserts. Seek out local community groups and agencies tackling these issues in your area, or consider donations to national programs like Black Lives Matter or the NAACP.
Patronize black businesses
For a literal taste of black culture, try visiting a black-owned restaurant, or any other business for that matter, where your dollars can support black business owners while you receive terrific products and services in return. Just be sure you’re shopping or dining at an establishment owned by black people, not one run by non-black people profiting off black culture.
Join the community
During Black History Month, many people and organizations put on community events to bring together locals of different backgrounds while celebrating black arts and culture. Check out social media and look out for events happening in your area. If you’re a black person who doesn’t see these types of events staged in your area, go ahead and host one yourself. Whether big or small, community events are an opportunity to educate, celebrate, and converse about black culture in historical and modern society.
Take in works by black artists
Deep engagement with black culture doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Read a new book by a black author. Visit an art museum exhibit highlighting a black artist. Pick up a classic vinyl album from a black musician. Even better if you support these arts and artists with money and tangible interest.
Donate to an HBCU
The NAACP lists donating to a black university among its suggestions for celebrating Black History Month. It makes sense. Nowhere do students engage more with the intellectual and cultural legacies of black culture in America than at HBCUs. Support this continued education and the next generation of great HBCU graduates.