February is Black History Month which was started in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson as “Negro History Week,” a noted African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher. It became a month-long celebration in 1976. Throughout school, I remember learning about some influential African Americans. As a family, we talk about Black History in February. We listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and talk about Maya Angelou.
There are some people that I have learned about over the years that you can share with your kids.
Phillis Wheatley was the first published African American female author. She was a servant who published her first poem at the age of 12 in the mid to late 1700s.
Madam C.J. Walker, born as Sarah Breedlove in 1867 near Delta, Louisiana, created specialized hair products for African-American hair and was the first African American woman to become a self-made millionaire. She also was known for her giving heart – she donated the largest amount of money by an African- American toward the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA in 1913.
Mae C. Jemison, in 1992 is the first African American woman to go to space.
Cathay Williams, the one and only female Buffalo Soldier, posing as a man named William Cathay to enlist in the 38th infantry in 1866. She served for two years before a doctor discovered she was a woman, leading to her discharge.
Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected into Congress and the first Black major-party presidential candidate. She survived three assassination attempts during her 1972 campaign.
Movies on Netflix to Celebrate Black History:
Family Movie Nights are always a hit in our house. In February, we make a point to watch African American movies. Here are a few movies that will teach you and your children more about history. Keep in mind, my kids are older, 12 and 6, and I found these movies appropriate for them to watch.
42 (PG-13) – The movie about Jackie Robinson, the first African American major league baseball player.
The Butler (PG-13) – This award winning starring Forest Whitaker tells the story of the White House butler who served under eight presidents.
The Wiz (G) – A movie that starred Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. This is a 1970s classic, two hour musical.
Black or White (PG-13) – A heartwarming movie about a white man who has raised his black granddaughter by himself after his wife and daughter pass away.
You can also find some great Black History Month books for the kids to get them even more involved.
Figures and events mentioned here are the beginning of African American history, but this is all of our history. Take time this month to show your children a little more of our history. It is time we learn, process and appreciate what people have done to move our world forward.
Half of the movies are about how a white person was a gracious or positive force in a Black persons life. How about you find a history book that tells the truth about the Atlantic slave trade and what happened to Black Americans in the first 50 years after slavery was ended (if you want to shorten things). No child is too young to learn history. Certainly not a 6+ year old.
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