Sunday, February 2, 2014

Black History is All Around You

On this first day of Black History Month, Feb. 1, 2014, I had nothing special planned to celebrate. Sure there are lots of activities and events all over Atlanta that we'll definitely be taking advantage of throughout the month. 

My daughter's after school program started early by assigning parts in January for a February play based on Tom Joyner's Little Known Black History Facts segment. I'm certainly proud that my second grader will be portraying Michelle J. Howard, the first African American woman to achieve three star rank in the U.S. Armed Services. She's also the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Rushmore, who just become the Navy's first four start general in December 2013.

So we're definitely prepped for celebrating the amazing legacy of people of African descent, but I didn't necessarily get up this morning with a lets-kick-off-Black History Month plan, partly because it's #365Black around here. But then I saw this Google doodle on Facebook and, of course, I had to share:

Slowly but surely it crept into my consciousness that I really wanted to be intentional about celebrating Black history today. But honestly, it's Saturday and despite working from home for several days this week (while entertaining my precocious cabin-fevered 7-year-old, who accompanied me to work on her third snow day), I was exhausted from strain and competing deadlines. I just didn't have it in me to go all out finding a Black History Month event today.

Blessedly the ancestors came to my rescue. After several hours of letting my big girl play on the iPad, I whipped open her math workbook and this is the first page I landed on:

So by learning about Selma Burke, we got our Black history in - with important relevance - as well as 45 minutes of money lessons, too. Every time my daughter sees a dime now, there will be an element of pride in her spirit. She was so inspired by Burke that she ran upstairs remembering she had a stack of Publix Black History Cards, like this one below: 

Of course, my daughter has no idea that I interned during the summers of 1990 and 1991 at The Atlanta Daily World, which at the time was the oldest Black daily newspaper in existence. That's a good lesson for her another day this month. By the time she returned with the cards, I'd stumbled across these notebooks I hadn't seen in years:

I gave her a brief history of literary legend Zora Neale Hurston and pioneer George Washington Carver. As soon as I mentioned the word peanut regarding Carver, she regaled me with her own knowledge of the inventor, making her mother - the child of two Tuskegee Institute (now university) alumni extremely proud. We'll have a great reading project later in the month with the notebooks' detailed biographies of Washington and Hurston. I look forward to telling my child that I share Hurston's history as a Howard University alumna and former editor at HU's school newspaper, the Hilltop).

An hour later, we were in the midst of one of our frequent our neighborhood walks and we stopped by this marker, which we'd seen before. But today, after reading about the historic Rose Hill African American community, we took the time to have an important discussion about the effects segregation and racism on neighborhoods. 

We ended the evening watching a recent edition to the annals of Black history through "The Gabby Douglas Story" on Lifetime. Douglas is the first American gymnast to ever win gold medals for both the individual all around and the team competitions during the same Olympic Games. I was thoroughly impressed by the age appropriateness of the TV movie and even more by the observant comments made by my smart girl. Posted a few:

I'm kind of glad I had no plan when I woke up this morning. Some of the best days happen when you let the Divine lead the way. Stay engaged and enriched this Black History Month. And keep Enjoyceinglife. It's precious.

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