Black History Month is almost halfway over and hopefully you have taken the time to reflect on all of the ways Black people have contributed to the United States and the world more broadly. I like to celebrate a diasporic Black History Month and remember the contributions of our Afro Caribbean and African brothers and sisters in addition to the contributions of Black Americans, past and present.
I was recently sent a Black History Month challenge. I do not know who originated the challenge, but I have learned a great deal and have used it to assist me in being more proactive this month in my community. I am also learning about great individuals in Black history who have greatly contributed to our society in large and small ways.
One of the first assignments is to affirm a Black child. I immediately called my nieces and let them know just how much they mean to me, our family, their community and Black people more broadly. The second item was to donate to an HBCU. That was easy, my mother is a graduate of Florida Memorial! Another was to research Barbara Jordan. That was very easy for me since I am currently writing a book about Barbara Jordan, Fannie Lou Hamer and Stacey Abrams.
Some of the tasks are quite simple, such as: find a person in Black history that you share a birthday with (MF Doom), share a photo of an ancestor (my great-grandfather Rev. William Dixon Greer born in 1886), research Bayard Rustin, buy and read a book by a Black author (“Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi), find an everyday item created by a Black inventor (Mary Beatrice Davidson who invented maxi pads), support a Black business (Uncle Bobbies Bookstore in Philly), donate to a Black food bank (FuelthePeople.com), donate supplies to a Black teacher (Donorschoose.org).
A few of the items will take a bit more time. I have yet to download three Black-owned apps, cook a family recipe (sweet potato pie), research Peg Leg Bates Resort, open a bank account with a Black-owned bank, learn the full version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (I get shaky around verse three), recreate an iconic Black photo, research Fleet Walker, take a virtual tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, help someone register to vote, call my state representative and tell them to authorize the Voting Rights Act, or plan a virtual celebration with family on February 28th.
Hopefully this challenge will assist you in learning more and doing more these last few days of Black History Month. There is so much we can do this month to assist others––be it teachers, small-business owners, or entrepreneurs. Hopefully this Black History Month ignites a yearning for knowledge and community as the holiday is intended.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and also What’s In It For Us podcast.