By Summer Thornsberry
Black history month is a national holiday, celebrated every February. Schools will teach about it, television networks will acknowledge it, and African-Americans across the United States will be nostalgic about the contributions of their ancestors in America.
Students may already be working on assignments about black history, but education outside the classroom can be broader and more interactive for the whole family. From slavery to the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement and the current Black Lives Movement, black history is ever-evolving and interesting to explore. Here are some ideas that may help your family learn about black history.
Reading is the key to learning, right? Read to and with your child about black history and explain what’s happening as you go along. Some periods in black history are tough to understand, so reading together not only gives you quality time but gives your child time to ask questions.
A few books to start off with are “Something Beautiful” by Sharon Wyeth, “ABC’s of African-American Inventors” by D. Robison, “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman Young Grace, and “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans” written and illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson. You can visit the public library or look online for more recommended books about black history.
Exploring African roots
Another way to teach children about their ancestors, whether African-American or not, is to actually look them up. Make a family tree and explain each person’s relation to your child. Make sure children understand that some African-American family trees may be incomplete due to slavery; however, genealogy is still a chance to learn about families in history. This is also a great way to explore personal heritage while helping children understand the concept of ancestry.
Introduce the rhythm and blues and more tunes
Let your child explore different genres of music in African-American culture, such as R&B, soul, hip hop, jazz and spirituals. Learn the meaning of each song as well as the history behind it. Play some instruments that were used to make some of the classic songs we love today.
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts are a hands-on way to teach younger children about black history and black artists.
Visit www.education.com/activity/black-history-month/ for a list of activities to do with children, along with how-to guides for each craft.
Kids love food
Snack time, lunch time and dinner time are not only for nourishment but can be palatable opportunities to learn about historic African-American cuisine. What better way you help your child understand more about black history than savoring soul food?
The term “soul food” originated in the 1960s, but many of the dishes stemmed from slavery. According to the African American Registry, slaves were given the “leftover” and “undesirable” cuts of meat from their masters and had to get creative when cooking it. Since then, soul food recipes have been passed down for generations in the black community. If making soul food sounds intimidating, research black-owned restaurants that may have traditional dishes on the menu.
Flash cards & quick recall
Another way to help your child learn more about black history is to make flash cards, each asking a question involving black history. Make a game of it and randomly quiz your child on trivia about black inventors, educators, activists, athletes and more.
The African American History Cell Phone Tour is an opportunity to learn about Hopkinsville’s black history. Download the tour card at www.hoptown.org/visitors/cell_phone_tours/index.php and take a ride down memory lane.
The City of Hopkinsville hosts The Black History Trivia Bowl yearly where teams come from as far as Clarksville to see who knows the most about black history.
This year’s trivia bowl will be Saturday, Feb. 20, with an alternate date set for March 5 in case of inclement weather.
Held since 1992, the annual Black History Trivia Bowl offers the region’s youth an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans over the history of our country. Young people from middle and high schools, churches and community groups are encouraged to join the double elimination tournament.
Trivia bowl study questions can be downloaded at www.hopkinsvilleky.us/ services/human_relations/trivia_bowl.php.
If you’re interested in having a team or want to volunteer, call 270-887-4010 or emailjamesarae.bu firstname.lastname@example.org.