As a nonprofit focused on closing the achievement gap for low-income BIPOC students, Educate. Radiate. Elevate. is an advocate for fighting to achieve equity in our communities. Celebrating Black History Month has been a fantastic way for our organization and readers to honor Black culture, history, and important movements. This blog provides a short overview of Black History Month and includes tips on how to celebrate this holiday’s values year-round. When we continue to observe the important ideals of Black History Month in our day-to-day lives, we are doing our part to help achieve racial equity!
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month was originally founded by Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History.” According to CNET, he chose the month of February to honor Black Americans because Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were both born in February and because February 1st is National Freedom Day. Woodson originally created the holiday to integrate more Black history teaching into schools. Nowadays, Black History Month is celebrated in many different ways to honor Black culture and history, including creative virtual and in-person events such as the ASLA Black History Month Virtual Festival. Although Black History Month events end in February, there are many ways to integrate the values and lessons highlighted during the month of February and thus continue honoring the holiday in your day-to-day life. Here are three different ways to celebrate Black History Month year-round:
1 – Educate Yourself
People of color have undergone extreme oppression and racism in our nation. It is important to make sure we are fully informed on Black culture, history, current movements, and correct terminology because we all have a responsibility to be culturally responsive. While there are infinite ways to become more culturally informed – and we should always strive to be continuously updating our knowledge and thinking – here are a few different ideas to get you started. You can watch Black history documentaries such as 13th on Netflix to learn more about the American justice system and the systematic oppression of Black people. By educating yourself on the challenges people of color are facing today and have faced in the past, you will be able to better empathize with them and will be further moved to fight for their cause.
You can also read sources that compile lists of correct terminology to use when discussing people of color such as this Racial Equity Tools Glossary. Understanding accurate terminology allows you to speak on Black culture, movements, and history in an educated and culturally responsive way. Additionally, it is important to remain fully informed on current events that relate to Black movements. The News section of the Black Lives Matter website frequently publishes relevant articles pertaining to news regarding Black movements, events, and leaders. Informing ourselves on current events is a great way to stay up-to-date with Black movements so we can remain culturally informed and do our part to fight for racial equity.
2 – Support Black-Owned Businesses
Supporting local businesses – especially supporting Black-owned local businesses – is a great way to help your community. By being a patron at local Black-owned stores and restaurants, you are financially supporting Black families and uplifting Black communities. Another great way to support black-owned businesses is to make online purchases that support black-owned businesses! Global Black-owned businesses tend to place a special emphasis on striving to employ and support people of color. Often, they will also donate a portion of their profits to organizations or movements focused on achieving racial equity in our nation.
For example, in 2016 a woman named Chichi Eburu founded Juvia’s Place, a makeup brand that is rooted in African culture and style and is inclusive of all skin tones. Eburu’s company is all about the bright colors worn by women in African Kingdoms, and her customers are a part of the “Juvias Place Tribe,” a movement that supports inclusivity and celebrates the beauty of women of all skin tones. Juvias Place has donated over $110,000 of its profits to organizations such as Black Lives Matter, NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, and Know Your Rights. By purchasing from Black-owned businesses like Juvia’s Place, you are supporting Black owners, workers, and organizations, and you are spreading the message that quality Black-owned businesses are present and thriving! Tip: Post a picture with a product from a local or global Black-owned business on your social media and use hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #Equity to get your friends and followers involved in the fight for racial equity!
3 – Donate to Organizations Fighting Racial Inequities
An easy but impactful way to celebrate the values of Black History Month is to donate to a nonprofit organization fighting racial injustice! While there are so many organizations to choose from, we suggest finding one that you feel a strong connection to. You can start by checking out VeryWellMind which has compiled a list of 10 Organizations that Support Racial Equality. If you are passionate about eradicating inequities in our nation’s education system and improving the learning opportunities for BIPOC students, Educate. Radiate. Elevate. would be the perfect organization to support!
E.R.E. is a nonprofit focused on educating low-income students of color using proven tutoring techniques that significantly improve each student’s educational experience. Our tutors are all participants in our Culturally Responsive and Trauma-Informed Teaching program so they can better support our students and their families. We strive to educate equitably, and our tutors are able to raise students’ test scores while simultaneously approaching them in a personalized and holistic way, allowing the students to feel understood and supported, and to grow into citizens that actively contribute to improving their communities. If you are interested in donating to Educate. Radiate. Elevate., click here. We would love your support!