How to Support Black History Month in Your Community
Black History Month is an important reminder of how Americans come from different parts of the world far and wide, through our ancestors, to make up this beautiful country of ours. It is a time to honor and support Black Americans and African Americans during the entire of month of February, while remembering the importance of diversity all year long.
Before we dig into how to celebrate Black History Month this year, it’s helpful to first touch on its beginning and historical background.
During 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, alongside Jesse E. Moorland, a renowned minister, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The goal of this organization was to support the achievements of Black Americans and people of African descent.1
Fast forward to 1926, the same organization (today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)) created a national Negro History Week. However, Black History Month was established during 1976 under President Gerald Ford, and since then it has been celebrated every February for the entire month.1
Black History Month is an opportunity to honor the contributions and achievements of Black Americans and people of African descent. It is also an opportunity to support our history as Americans and all contributions, innovations, and inspiration from the Black American and African American cultures, which add to the collective success of our society as Americans and as citizens of the world.
Here are some ideas to honor the contributions of the Black American and African American community locally and nationally.
1. Enrich your knowledge
The beauty of being human is that we are always learning and acquiring new knowledge. During February and beyond, especially if you enjoy history, you can take it upon yourself to get to know more about Black Americans and African Americans who have made an impact in your own area of expertise or even interest. We have prominent Americans who have made a difference for nature and our planet, including in fishing and boating. These innovators include George Cook, who invented the “Automatic Fishing Device,” known today as the automatic fishing reel!2 Also, Benjamin Montgomery, who invented the steamboat propeller for shallow water during the 1950s.3
As people who love being on the water, let us also mention contemporary Americans who are making a difference today in the world of oceanography, such as Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Paulinus Chigbu, and Jeanette Davis.4
2. Support diversity as an angler/outdoors lover
It’s always mindful to embrace the diversity that comes with being human. Being an angler and outdoors lover is no different, being curious about what diverse individuals and groups are doing, and showing your support is a kind gesture that says we are better when we support one another. We can learn from one another by sharing the ups and downs, and lessons learned from being an angler, boater, and person who loves the outdoors through experience and time in nature. Check out these outstanding anglers who are making a difference in their communities: Jeanine Blair, Patricia Clement, and Noami Grevemberg.
3. Get excited about local businesses
As a member of your community, you encounter people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. We live in such a diverse nation and that’s something that should be celebrated and supported by all. It’s easy to do a little research and find businesses like a tackle shop, a boat rental place, or simply a restaurant or clothing boutique that is owned by a diverse business force, This allows you to open up the door of possibilities and learn more about your own community through the people who are making a living near you and providing you with goods and services you can enjoy in your daily life.
4. Engage and collaborate
What field do you work in? No matter what it is, I guarantee that if you’re passionate about what you do, you can certainly find like-minded individuals who can support that success. You will not only champion diversity in your work and field of expertise, but also broaden your resources and audience. It’s a win-win outcome. Say you own a coffee shop, and maybe there’s a flower shop nearby owned by a Black American, which can provide nice floral arrangements for your shop every weekend or month. That will embellish your shop, which your customers will notice, and thereby you gain a new, positive work collaboration.
There are multiple ways to elevate your knowledge about American history and this year’s Black History Month can serve as inspiration. You can feed your cultural knowledge and support our fellow Black Americans and African Americans who have and continue to make contributions toward the betterment of our lives today. We are better when we take the time to learn more about one another and work together.
1 Source: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month
2 Source: https://samepassage.org/george-cook/
4 Source: https://schmidtocean.org/cruise-log-post/remembering-the-contributions-of-black-americans-to-the-marine-sciences/
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