How to Celebrate Black History Month. February is Black History Month, a time to honor the contributions African-Americans have made to every area of the country's life. Like all commemorative occasions, it's also a great excuse to have fun - and maybe learn some things you never knew before.
Visit your local museums. Whether they're dedicated to history, art or science, it's a sure bet this month's premier exhibits will focus on the work of black creators. (Check the newspaper for listings).
Treat yourself to a pre-spring vacation: Head for Virginia and tour the archeological digs in progress at Mt. Vernon and Monticello. At both plantations, you can examine the remains of slave quarters and farm buildings and see some of the tools, toys and household furnishings that keep emerging from the ground.
Take a virtual course in black history at "The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture." Then test your knowledge with the Black History Treasure Hunt (see kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/hunt.html).
Take a backward dive into the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s - a fortuitous burst of creativity among entertainers, writers, artists and musicians who happened to be black. Among them were Duke Ellington, Zora Neale Hurston, Ethel Waters and Langston Hughes.
Have a dinner party and serve food with its roots in Africa and the black kitchens of the American South. You'll find inspiration and recipes in dozens of Southern and African-American cookbooks.
Sit back, relax and listen to some good, classic jazz. And maybe sign up for those piano lessons you've been promising yourself.
Drink a toast to Branch Rickey. As general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, he talked Jackie Robinson into joining the team in 1947 and - though Jackie's like will not be seen again - baseball and America have been richer ever since.
For information on touring Mt. Vernon and Monticello, see their Web sites or contact the Virginia tourism office.