February is Black History Month. This is a great time for kids to learn about Black and African American culture, contributions and achievements. It’s also an important time to refocus our efforts on teaching antiracism and racial justice. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, many of the traditional programs in schools, churches and local communities are unable to proceed. Some ways families can continue the celebration of Black History Month in 2021 are:
- Story time: There are many beautiful and inspiring children’s books about Black history. You can check at your children’s school library, or public libraries offer e-book and curbside delivery borrowing. If you want to buy books, consider sharing a few in a rotation with families in your neighborhood for a fun community book exchange. To be mindful of COVID-19 precautions, wipe books down with a sanitizing wipe or quarantine the book for 24 hours before trading.
- Movie night: This month, plan family movie night around Black history. All major streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime provide curated movies in the categories of Black history or Black Lives Matter. Involve the kids in the plan; get everybody to weigh in on their picks and build a schedule of movies to watch together this month. If the weather is nice and you’ve got the room, maybe even consider having a friend or two over to watch a movie projected onto a sheet or wall in the backyard. Please keep kids 6 feet apart and wear masks while enjoying the movie.
Take the kids to the museum, virtually: Many national museums have opened their doors virtually to the public, providing the opportunity to enjoy an exhibit we might not otherwise get to see. A few great examples include:
- The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture digitized their photo exhibits. A popular gallery is the “History of Ebony Magazine.”
- The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., hosts a wonderful and inspiring kids book video book series called “Small But Mighty.”
- The National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta, Ga., offers a virtual guided tour for visitors.
- Locally, the Houston Museum of African American Culture remains open, but with limits to traffic for COVID-19 safety. You have to reserve your visit in advance through their website.
- Blast the tunes: Celebrate Black culture by enjoying music with the kids. Streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music offer Black History soundtracks ready to go. All you have to do is connect your phone to Bluetooth speakers. When kids discover a new song they really love, you can use this as a launching pad to help them look up and learn more about that artist.
Houston Public Media also offers a great selection of radio events this month, featuring artists such as James Brown, BB King and Beyoncé. And, the world-renowned STAX music academy in Memphis moved their annual Black history programming online, offering “R & R: Rhythm and Revolution,” a video stream from their website, later this month.
COVID-19 might be keeping us all home and apart this February, but with a little creativity we can still celebrate Black History and Black culture with our families. Enjoy this time with the kids!