10 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month at Home

published Feb 1, 2021
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Feb. 1 marks the start of Black History Month, which honors the great contributions the Black community has made throughout U.S. history. The creation of the month-long celebration stems back to 1915, when noted historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson created a themed week to honor Black history. And in 1976, February was officially recognized as Black History Month, which over time graduated from being nationally celebrated to globally like it is in current day. 

The existence of Black History Month has helped give tribute to significant achievements from the Black community, and there are plenty of ways that everyone can commemorate from the comfort of home. From supporting Black-owned businesses to donating to charities supporting anti-racism efforts and watching educational documentaries, here are 10 activities to take part in — not just this month, but all year round. 

1. Support Black-owned businesses.

Many Black-owned businesses still face structural racism, which poses a unique threat to their longevity and ability to serve their communities’ needs. Becoming a customer — specifically during February when these companies have a lot more visibility — is a great way to celebrate. Don’t know where to start? Online marketplace Miiriya showcases Black-owned businesses in a range of categories, from fashion, art, beauty, home decor, and more. Find other companies by searching the #blackowned hashtag online. Additionally, check out our list of Black-owned businesses in the home space to support.

2. Learn about noteworthy Black figures and their contributions.

Typically, Black History Month draws associations with well-known figures like Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and activist Rosa Parks, but there are many others to learn about. For example, there’s Shirley Chisolm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, and Fannie Lou Hamer, a Black activist from Mississippi who launched Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC), an initiative to purchase land that Black people could collectively own and farm. Visit BlackPast.org for an extensive list of other notable Black figures.

3. Donate to charities that support anti-racism equity and equality.

Given the ongoing public protests against police brutality, charities and organizations that support anti-racism equity and equality need donors to continue their collective work to seek justice for the Black community. Consider donating to the Black Youth Project, Loveland Therapy Fund, Amistad Law Project, as well as grassroots organizations that oftentimes don’t receive widespread publicity.

4. Listen to or read The New York Times “1619″ Project.

The “1619″ Project is a long-form historical recounting of the role slavery played in the transformation of America. The project references the year 1619, in which the first ship carrying enslaved Africans reached the shores of the colony of Virginia. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and project creator Nikole Hannah Jones hosts a podcast that dissects the link between slavery and American economics, the co-opting of Black musicians’ work, and the obstacles Black people faced with receiving healthcare and land ownership rights.

5. Purchase, read, and share books by Black authors.

Add Black authors to your reading list. Edward E. Baptist’s “The Half Has Never Been Told” takes an in-depth look at slavery’s role in the “evolution and modernization of the United States.” N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season,” a Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel, follows a small town woman seeking to locate her kidnapped daughter during a recurring global climate crisis. Also, consider joining a book club that focuses on Black literature, and share what books you’re reading with friends, family, and your social media networks.

6. Virtually visit museums that center Black history and culture.

On Feb. 11, The National Museum of African-American History and Culture is hosting a free online social justice lecture featuring educators from the National Portrait Gallery; Boston’s Art by African Americans in the Museum of Fine Arts has a free online exhibit of renowned collections by Black artists, including quilt maker and folk artist Harriet Powers and celebrated photographer Gordon Parks. Check out the Association of African American Museums global directory to explore other museums and their virtual offerings.

7. Watch films or TV shows by Black creators.

Netflix’s Black Lives Matter category highlights films and TV shows centered around the “Black experience in America,” including Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” a drama about a real-life group of Black teens falsely accused of a vicious attack; “Loving,” a film about an interracial couple whose marriage became the basis of a landmark Supreme Court case; and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Viola Davis as the groundbreaking Southern blues singer.

8. Attend Black History Month virtual events.

On Feb. 11, New York City’s City Parks Foundation will host a screening of Spike Lee’s 2017 film “Rodney King“, followed by a virtual discussion. On the other side of the country, Los Angeles’ Aquarium of the Pacifics will host The Virtual African-American Festival on Feb. 27 in honor African and African American traditions.

If you don’t know where to start looking for virtual events, check your city or state government websites for local listings for Black History month events such as online poetry-thons, scavenger hunts, art exhibits, performances and more

9. Listen to, learn about, and share music created by Black artists.

Spotify’s “Black History is Now” campaign celebrates the global impact of Black music artists. Listen to songs by classic performers like Nina Simone and Ray Charles as well as tracks from current recording stars like H.E.R., Anderson .Paak and Andra Day.

10. Watch Black history documentaries.

Throughout the month of February, PBS will offer a specially curated lineup of Black History Month documentaries and independent films. One to look out for is the documentary “Vel Philips: Dream Big Dreams,” a look at the life of Wisconsin civil rights activist Vel Phillips, the first woman in the U.S. to hold executive office in state government. Additionally, look to channels like BET, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, TV One and Aspire TV for featured Black History documentaries.

A few other recommendations: The New York Times‘ “Traveling While Black,” which explores the tactics Black Americans used to remain safe while traveling during the Jim Crow Era; Netflix documentary “Quincy,” which chronicles the decades-long career of renowned composer and producer Quincy Jones.