As Black History Month has been observed since 1976, and its predecessor, Negro History Week, since 1926, there aren’t too many celebration ideas that are truly original. Nevertheless, tweaking common celebration ideas in ways that appeal to your target audience can result in activities that not only increase awareness of black issues and contributions in America, but will also help to strengthen community and cross-cultural understanding in a manner that anyone can enjoy.
A Tour of Historic Places
All over the country are cemetaries, churches, houses, and historical sites that boast a rich history in the Black community. Your tour could be across states, exploring historical sites in the Deep South and then tracing the black migratory path to the North. If time or money is an issue, consider organizing a tour of your own city to learn about the culture and Black community in your area. Just stop by your local library for more information. Also, many major cities across America offer guided tours of historically significant Black neighborhoods.
A festival about how Black movies have evolved over the past half century would be an interesting way to highlight the month. A useful resource is the book "Blacks in Film" which traces Black film history from minstrel shows to Spike Lee’s thought-provoking "Do The Right Thing." Or you could focus on little known documentaries directed by African-Americans such as "Blacks Without Borders." You could also sponsor filmmaking courses for Black youth and then schedule viewings throughout the month for the participants to showcase their work.
Love and Sexuality
Put together a singles night where black singles congregate to discuss issues of sexuality and love. This idea can be done formally or informally depending on the target audience or the venue. If in a church, schedule a night for Black Christian singles to meet up and discuss dating and abstinence, for example. If in an university setting, try inviting Black fraternities and sororities to come together for a sexuality Q&A session. If you’re really bold, but together a date night and play activities related to Black history that can serve as dynamic ice-breakers.
Any of the ideas here can be tweaked and changed according to your needs and budget. Just have fun, don’t stress too much, and make sure your event presents an opportunity to learn as well as celebrate.
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- USA Today; Time to End Black History Month: Author Unknown; February 2009
- Blacks in Film; William Lace; 2008
Yasmeen J. Henderson is a freelance writer specializing in topics related to education, fitness, health/wellness, relationships, and travel. She is a former ESL instructor and academic advisor, with extensive experience as a copywriter in education. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree in government and a Master of Arts degree in education.