Let's Celebrate Black History Month!

It is vital we recognize and celebrate the achievements of the Black community throughout history. Honoring the past will help us actively engage for a better future and develop a clear understanding of the struggle for equal opportunity in the United States. Let us learn below how to respectfully celebrate this month, including ways to support black-owned businesses, causes, and institutions.



Background

Originally called “Negro History Week,” the prime purpose was to respect black identity and for all people to discuss the accomplishments of the Black experience. Educator Carter G. Woodson “wanted this time to be a celebration of the achievement of Black people as a race, recognizing that Blacks were part of the history of this country from the very beginning.” Thanks to a growing acknowledgement and the civil rights movement, former President Gerald Ford officially established Black History Month in 1996.


Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) “reflects changes in how people of African descent in the United States have viewed themselves, the influence of social movements on racial ideologies, and the aspirations of the Black community." The theme for 2022 focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness through education and activism. Let’s put our power towards education and learn more about how we can help ourselves and the community.


Where to Begin?

Brief Overview


With the internet at our disposal, it can be overwhelming to find the right resources to support Black culture. Listed below are some categories in which you can choose to be intentional and take action.

  • Support Black Owned Businesses

  • Films & Movies

  • Listen Closely

  • Read Along

  • Student Resources


Support Black Owned Business


Spending money is a positive form of economic empowerment towards businesses. You can have a monumental impact on the Black community if you’re not limited by ways to support. If you click here, you will discover that Official Black Wall Street is the largest platform to discover Black-owned businesses.

  1. Type in the first box “Black-owned brands, businesses, or other”

  2. Select your location

  3. Choose your category

Businesses vary in all types. For instance, you could purchase a shampoo from Pattern or pay for a latte at a local coffee shop. Here in Blacksburg, a useful resource provided by INCLUSIVEVT is a full list of minority-owned organizations that will greatly benefit your search.



Films & Movies


Visual learning is a great way to promote pieces by Black artists and learn history through a different perspective. Appreciating art and culture can be a relaxing and fun way to dive deeper into Black history, and the rich history of a film can inspire you to do and learn more! USA Today provided a list of 25 powerful movies to stream in honor of Black History Month. To add, CNBC created a list of influential of Black filmmakers in the entertainment industry and their incredible marks of talent. Looking for films with black female empowerment? Try viewing:

  • Hidden Figures

  • Self Made

  • Insecure

  • Dear White People

  • Whitney


Listen Closely


If you plan to get some exercise, tune in to several podcasts or songs that will enlighten your experience! Vanity Fair has a list of great podcasts available to deepen your comprehension and explore untold narratives, including:

  • Historically Black

  • School Colors

  • Blackbelt Voices

  • Black History Buff

  • Witness Black History

  • Black History Year

  • Red Table Talk

Another way to support the community is to listen to music. Click iHeart to find more influential Black musicians including Prince, Alicia Keys, and Usher. I suggest picking an artist each day and browse through their music career on Spotify or any other music app.



Read Along


Trying to find a way to boost brain connectivity? Make an effort to read literary works by Black authors this month. Reedsy makes book searching easy with nearly 70 books to choose from. Since the theme this year is Black Health and Wellness, SheKnows offers an exceptional book collection “talking about medical bias, mental health, and combining activism with self-care.”


The learning continues with poems like:

  • “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

  • “Middle Passage” by Robert Hayden

  • “Race” by Elizabeth Alexander

To find more poems like these, click here to celebrate the beautiful works of art surrounding African American culture.



Resources for Students


Students at Virginia Tech can visit the Black Cultural Center (BCC) in Squires Student Center to feel welcomed and utilize educational resources on our campus. The center primarily focuses on hosting “programs consisting of academic and social events, activities, workshops, collaborations, and series.” During this month, the BCC offers a range of events from cultural artforms of social transformation to money management and Black history trivia! Make sure to subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media by typing @VTBCC.


Conclusion

Black History Month is more than just appreciating the talent brought to our world. It is a time to reflect on sacrifices for innovation, hard work, and determination of Black Americans that came before us. Use the resources in this article and take action to educate yourself on the exceptional success of Black artists, entrepreneurs, and authors. Let’s celebrate their accomplishments by actively learning and supporting their diligent work.



By Izzy McIlvenna