I love February. Even though it is cold and summer seems like years away, I absolutely love celebrating Black History Month. Yes, it is the shortest month of the year, but I still have 28 full days to learn more about my rich history and my brilliant ancestors.
I also use Black history Month as a time to think about where I fit in this long line of excellence. What am I doing to contribute? What more could I be doing, and how can I strengthen my bond with fellow African-Americans in large and small ways?
Who doesn’t love a good party? One way we can celebrate Black History Month is to throw a party in celebration of our distinguished past. This party can also serve as a way to honor and commune with the people in your life doing amazing things. It is a party with a purpose.
First, invite people you know are in the spirit of celebrating Black history. Many people are still recovering from the holidays (financially, emotionally—you name it), so a potluck party is a great way to have people show off their culinary and cultural talents while releasing some of the burden on you as the host.
Second, create a quiz. I am an academic, so of course I always want a quiz! Making the quiz is a great way for you to discover new individuals who should be celebrated. Let your guests take the quiz in small groups. It’s a great way for different friends to get to know one another. It is also a time for people to dust off their Black history knowledge. Many people know so much about Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass, but their knowledge about Bayard Rustin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kwame Nkrumah and Shirley Chisholm may be a bit rusty.
Your guests may not know every answer, and that is OK. You can formulate the quiz however you see fit, with fill-in-the-blanks, quote identifications, timelines or any other surprises you think may challenge your guests. This can be an opportunity to celebrate what they know and to remind them that there is so much of our own history that we do not know, but should.
As I celebrate Black History Month this year, I am also trying to remember the great diaspora that we all share. As I dissect in my book “Black Ethnics,” the population of people of African descent currently residing in the U.S. continues to grow. I am going to use this February as an opportunity to move beyond just the U.S. and celebrate the great accomplishments of women and men from the Caribbean and Africa as well.
So even though February is the shortest month of the year, I refuse to sell it short.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.”