February is Black History Month. This is the month designated to remember and highlight important contributions of African Americans in the history of the United States. It is a time that African American individuals reflect on the importance of famous African Americans and particular events regarding African Americans. Often times parents struggle with how to discuss African American history with children under a certain age. I have listed 3 different ways that parents can introduce African American History Month to their children.
First, start by having casual conversations about the history of African Americans in this country. Initiate this conversation by discussing important people that a child would be familiar with. You could talk about people like Michael Jackson, LeBron James and Beyonce. These are people that children of a certain age will be more familiar with. From then on you can incorporate little known facts about these individuals, such as, where they were born and if they had any siblings.
Next, begin by introducing age appropriate books to your children. There are various books that profile famous African Americans especially during this month. It might be best to showcase certain books that highlight individuals that they are familiar with such as Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. From there you could move on to less familiar famous African Americans like Jesse Owens, Marian Anderson and Bill Pickett. These type of people will provide you with an opportunity to talk about lesser-known contributions to the world that African Americans have made. Here are a coupe of book suggestions, “Please, Baby, Please,”” What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
Lastly, lastly you could watch certain movies with your children that highlight particular African Americans or particular events that featured African Americans. Good examples of movies to choose would be The Rosa Parks Story, Eyes on the Prize or Selma, Lord Selma. If you wanted to choose movies that highlighted the lives of African Americans only then you might want to look at movies like Ray which would be about Ray Charles or Malcolm X .There are so many ways to initiate dialogue and knowledge in your household regarding African American history.
It’s important that we don’t limit this conversation to just this month because its Black History Month but that we extend that conversation to all months during the year. We want to produce a generation of children that are familiar with the contributions of African Americans in this country. It is up to us as parents to introduce this knowledge and to infuse this knowledge into the day-to-day activities of the knowledge base of our children.