Black History Month: Ways to Celebrate, Educate and Support

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Black History Month is underway and there are a variety of ways to honor and celebrate the importance of Black history and culture nationally, across North Carolina (NC), and in local communities. Daily events by the National Museum of African American History and Culture include digital conversations across their social media platforms around uplifting the Black family. These conversations are an important part of this year’s theme, The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity which was selected by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, an organization founded in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was a historian who recognized the lack of African American voices throughout his studies and thus founded the first week dedicated to Black History in 1926. The National Museum of African American History and Culture describes Woodson’s ambitions as providing “a real education that inspires people to live more abundantly, to learn to begin with life as they find it and make it better” (NMAAHC Celebrating Black History, 2021).

2021 Black History Month Read-In Flyer

2021 Black History Read-In features authors of children’s books.

Fitting within the family theme for this year’s celebration, the Fourth Annual Black History Month Read-In is celebrating NC children’s book authors. This series of virtual events feature authors Tameka Fryer Brown, Judy Allen Dodson, Kelly Starling Lyons, Eleanora E. Tate and Carole Boston Weatherford presented by the NC African American Heritage Commission in partnership with the NC State Capitol, the State Library of NC, the Richard B Harrison Community Library, and the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. One author presents weekly at a live event but the sessions can be accessed on-demand any time on the NC African American Heritage Commission’s Youtube channel.

Scene of street with older cars from mid-twentieth century with words from Oasis Spaces The Green Book Project African American Travel in NC 1936-1966

NC African American Heritage Commission’s Exhibit entitled “Oasis Spaces” from their Green Book Project is currently traveling around North Carolina.

The NC African American Heritage Commission is also at work on a variety of programs and projects including The Green Book project that is directly related to the history of travel in the US. “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” also known as the Green Book, was published between 1936 and 1966 and featured over 300 sites in North Carolina that were safe for African Americans to visit during segregation. This project highlights the complex statewide network of business owners and sites that served as an “oasis space” for a variety of African American travelers (NC AAHC, Green Book Project, 2020). Currently, the exhibit entitled “Oasis Spaces” is on display until March 31 at the North Carolina History Museum as well as, the Historic Magnolia House, a Green Book site in Greensboro. Learn more about the traveling exhibit schedule, access an online exhibit, and find general information about the project. Also, learn about the NC African American Heritage Commission’s other programs, A Tale of Two Ships, Freedom Roads, NC Civil Rights Trail, and Africa to Carolina which are all currently in progress.

Screenshot from Black Dollar website

The Black Dollar website provides information on Black-owned and operated businesses in North Carolina.

Supporting Black-owned businesses is another fantastic way to celebrate Black History Month locally and particularly important as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to plague our locally owned and operated businesses. Black Dollar is an online directory of Black-owned or operated businesses across the state of NC. This directory’s ability to categorize the businesses by type of products offered and also by region of the state makes it easy to find businesses in your area or on your travels. Google has also added a way for Google Business Profiles to add Black-owned business attributes to profiles that will display on Google Search and Maps. Google this month also extended Black-owned attributes onto its Shopping tab with a label reading “identified Black-owned” once owners have updated their Google Business page. Local destination marketing organizations (e.g., CVB, TB, TDA) are often another way to identify Black-owned businesses as well as culturally and historically significant sites to visit in those destinations.

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