The idea of Black History Month has been around since 1926, according to TIME Magazine, and it is celebrated in schools and cities across the country to honor the accomplishments and struggles of black Americans. If you are looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, but aren't sure how to get started, consider spending a day volunteering at a local social justice organization, historical society, or library. Some of these organizations have civil rights volunteer opportunities specifically designed for families with kids.
If you want to volunteer with the kids but a group doesn't offer children's programming, ask about other opportunities to learn. History, cultural, or municipal groups have resources to share that highlight the contributions of people of color in your area and throughout the United States.
Expand your reach, and you'll find volunteering is a great way for your whole family to gain knowledge and make new friends. There are plenty of Black History Month activities for classrooms, parks, and fundraisers to add to your volunteering schedule, too.
Learn Something New
Whatever age you are, you can always learn and grow. Volunteering to celebrate Black History Month is a way to discover stories you may not have even been aware of. Was your hometown on the Underground Railroad? Ask your local historical society if they need help cleaning up a historical marker or cemetery. Are your kids interested in science? Make a poster for your school or library about a scientist or inventor like George Washington Carver or Mae Jemison. Many U.S. cities offer an MLK Day of Service every year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which unites local folks to volunteer at sites such as food pantries and senior centers. When you are talking to organizations about volunteer opportunities, also ask about events or books that might be helpful. For example, they may be able to point you toward some age-appropriate biographies of local history makers.
You may even find yourself honoring Black History Month by hearing the stories of individuals directly involved in the civil rights movement. They could be older people who remember demonstrating in the 1960s, or current organizers who work with a local movement. When talking to people at a social justice organization, ask them if there are any performances in your community that feature individual experiences or revisit historic events.
Grow Your Perspective
In this month and throughout the year, encourage your kids to think about the stories and perspectives they hear every day. Who does most of the talking in your community? Are the books you read and TV shows you watch filled with diverse voices? If you read bedtime stories to your little ones, look for a chapter from black history like Henry's Freedom Box or a story of overcoming prejudice like Amazing Grace. For older kids, take a trip to your library to explore poets of color such as Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and Rita Dove. Signing up to read aloud is always a great volunteering opportunity for teens and adults, too.
Make New Connections
Volunteering or visiting a local organization, if you haven't done it before, is a great opportunity to meet new people. Start new conversations about yourself and the world you live in, and make connections on a deeper level. Maybe trying something new for a day will lead to long-term commitments to an area organization, or a newfound friendship for you and your children.
When you're looking for opportunities for Black History Month, talk to members of your community for ideas and ways to help near you. If you are looking to stretch out of your social circle, consider consulting a volunteer website like VolunteerMatch for openings in your area. Whatever you do, get out there and lend a hand!
Do you volunteer during Black History Month? Where do you volunteer? Tweet us with the hashtag #GoodMatters!
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Why It’s Good
Volunteering at a civil rights organization is a great way to celebrate Black History Month because you can learn, grow, and make new connections.