February is Black History Month. This is an excellent time to talk with others, especially our youth, about the rich history of the black heritage. Why? Because, it’s fascinating. Beyond this, it’s an opportunity for young people to learn to appreciate the unique contributions that black citizens have brought to our culture. And we can learn along with them.
This month in Cincinnati schools, dedicated classroom teachers are implementing creative projects, visits to local museums, and other activites that can enhance students’ appreciation of black history and the black experience. In a larger sense, this positive effort to enlighten youth of all colors with an appreciation of diversity is enacted every day within educational systems throughout the U.S. and other countries, reflecting our highest ideals.
As parents, relatives, and friends of our youth, there are countless things that we can do to complement the tireless ongoing work of illuminating youth from many divergent backgrounds in our best schools. Whatever we might do to support this initiative is sure to be gratifying to everyone involved, adults and children alike, especially if we keep in mind that any learning experience we share with children and young adults is time well-invested.
During Black History Month, and every month thereafter, here are a few suggested ways you can help educate the new generation, as you let them know you care about their future participation in a world guided by principles of love, acceptance, and respect among all races, creeds, and nationalities. You can enjoy these activities at virtually no cost:
- Enlisting the family's participation, prepare a meal from any recipe from a predominently black culture. If you don’t know exactly how, it can be a great adventure to learn. At dinner share what you’ve learned about black history.
- Attend a local concert composed and/or performed by black musicians. Or attend an art exhibit that features black artists. Blacks have made an invaluable contribution to the arts. Many public events are free of charge.
- Take advantage of several resources—including audio books, CD’s, and videos—at your local library. For some worthwhile entertainment, share these helpful media alternatives among friends and family.
- Read about the black history, or something written by a black poet, author, or journalist. If a child is very young, just sharing a book with pictures can be delightful for those who take part.
- Encourage youth to take the initiative to write an essay, a play, a song, or a story that incorporates black history. Your gentle persuasion just might give a child the motivation to begin on a path to a satisfying career in history, education, medicine, law, art, literature, drama, or one of the many branches of public service that are open to him or her.
This is just a short list. The possibilities are endless once you start to brainstorm, which is also an important step of this creative process. Urge everyone involved to actively participate. You can even put things to a vote. Talking things over with openness and respect will arm our youth with the tools of effective communication. This will help prepare them for an enlightened and meaningful future.
Of course, the above list can be altered to focus on any culture—your own or that of another—whether it's in your neighborhood or halfway around the world. Once you start this engaging journey, and awaken your awareness of life in all its beautiful manifestations, you'll probably want to continue. This process holds the potential of bringing families, as well as individuals of divergent backgrounds formerly less understood, closer together in mutual acceptance, compassion, and joy.