Through all of the learning this month and always, it’s very important to combine it with Black History Month ideas for action. Here are actions for kids and families to take this month to learn, grow, and act.
20+ Black History Month Ideas for Action for Families
Learn about the history of Black oppression and how it continues today. Study the life and work of Civil Rights leaders and activists, both in the past and present. (Here are a whole list of ideas to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.). Learn about continued racial and generational inequality.
Learn about leaders like John Lewis, Rosa Parks, and many more. In particular, learn about some of the women who did important work, whose names tend to be forgotten – Coretta Scott King, Ruby Bridges, Shirley Chisholm, and Ella Baker are all amazing!
Here are some wonderful resources to learn:
- Learn about 12 unsung Black Americans with Bite-sized Black History (perfect for families with kids)
- Virtual exhibition 28 Days of Black History
- Follow Rachel Cargle for daily prompts to do your own work to learn about Black history
- Follow Chelsea for 28 days of prompts to learn about Black women
- Antiracism Daily
- 8 Antiracist Actions for Kids
You can also learn antiracist vocabulary, about racist policies, about the African diaspora, and so much more.
Support Black Liberation
Work to support Black liberation in your community and beyond. Be sure that your service isn’t just focused on kindness, but that it pursues true racial equity. This may look like supporting wealth redistribution or empowering marginalized communities.
As you serve, be careful not to do it in a way that exploits your power. Recognize that you’re not above the people you’re helping; you’re simply working alongside Black folx, for equity that should have already been present.
Is there any better starting point to learn, connect, and grow than with books? There are so many wonderful books children’s books about Black history, Black joy, Black leaders, and more. Multiple Black history children’s book lists are linked here.
Music is great for setting the atmosphere. Here are some ideas for celebrating Black American music.
While many listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it’s equally important to consider his speech and other important addresses, as well as those from other activists, throughout the year.
- MLK’s speech honoring the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation
- Letter from a Birmingham Jail
- Rare color photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. (thanks to Britt Hawthorne for sharing this)
- John Lewis’s speech at the March on Washington
- Shirley Chisholm commencement speech
- Stacy Abrams speech celebrating Biden-Harris win in Georgia
- Kamala Harris’s first speech as Vice President
Virtual Museum Tour
Several museums have online tours and other info about the Civil Rights movement and also about Dr. King.
- The National Civil Rights Museum has a virtual celebration of Dr. King’s birthday.
- The National Museum of African American History & Culture has a number of online exhibits.
- National Center for Civil and Human Rights has a virtual exhibition on Dr. King’s community.
- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has parts of their MLK Day commemoration online.
- The International Civil Rights Center & Museum has a story hour and virtual seminar about MLK Jr.
Watching a movie or video about the Civil Rights movement can also be a wonderful way to honor the month and Black folks always. This is a great way to spark some excellent discussions, too. Here are some family-friendly Black History Month movies. Here’s a list of 7 kid-friendly movies about MLK and the Civil Rights movement.
There are also a number of educational videos for families of all ages. Here are some great ones!
Use the month as an opportunity to not just have one-time discussions with kids about race, but as a chance to start some continuing conversations. Use it as a chance to explain systemic racism to kids, and also to consider some simple antiracist kids actions.
Here’s a good video to start talking about race and racism.
Shift Your Language
Consider words and phrases you may use in everyday life that you can shift. This may include things like moving from “slaves” to “enslaved people.” Here is a list of other phrases that are racist that you can work to change.
Encourage your children to actively work for changes to racist systems by contacting Congresspeople to change laws and policies. (Here is info on how children can contact members of Congress.) You could also keep a journal of antiracist actions your family has taken, questions you have, or feelings on what it would have been like to be Black in America in the 1960s or now.
Where is racial equity lacking in your community? In your city’s access to playgrounds and libraries? In the diversity of literature in your school? Figure out areas that need improvement and speak out.
Support Black-owned restaurants or markets. Soul food is a great option, or you can choose a restaurant owned by someone of the African diaspora (we’ve loved trying Ethiopian).
This is a perfect opportunity to create some art either inspired by Black artists or that honors Black history. Here are a number of wonderful Black History Month art projects.
While Black History Month obviously centers around race, it’s very important to remember intersectionality. Poverty, gender inequality, healthcare, and more all connect. Use this as an opportunity to touch on intersectional social justice discussions, as well.
Buy items from Black creators. You can stock up on gifts, buy household items, jewelry, and more. I love this shop, this shop, and this shop. There’s also this beautiful jewelry, religious art, this gorgeous and colorful art, and clothing.
Donate to organizations working toward equity and social justice. Some options are the ACLU, the Equal Justice Initiative, or Black Girls Code. You can find some other options here!
Celebrate Black Joy
While it’s incredibly important to learn the history and to continue in activism, it’s also radically important to celebrate Black joy and success. Learn about amazing Black folx – creators, engineers, artists, etc. in the past and present. Some wonderful people are Ella Fitzgerald, Mae Jemison, Kehinde Wiley, and so many more.
Plan what antiracist action you will take in the coming days, weeks, and months. Don’t allow your family to only celebrate for a month, but commit to continued action. Here’s a great of simple antiracist actions with kids.
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