February is the start of Black History Month, and when you look at black history, you look at American history. We here at Awardco are all about celebrating the people around us for the awesomeness that they bring to our lives, and this month is a fantastic opportunity to do so. Don’t shy away from this topic because you think it’s too delicate for your workplace—we’re here to help you celebrate it in a way that everyone can get excited about!
For a quick celebration guide, check out our kit.
A brief history of Black History Month.
Carter G. Woodson, a noted historian, first started this movement all the way back in 1926. He chose that specific time to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Now, 50 years later, this once week-long observance was expanded to include all of February.
Race can be a sensitive subject, and even celebrations can be taken the wrong way if done incorrectly. American businessman and philanthropist Franklin Thomas once said, “One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.”
Celebrating the uniqueness in all of us is the key! Here are some ideas for celebrating Black History Month this February that everyone can participate in.
Popular ways people celebrate Black History Month.
There are a lot of popular ways people like to celebrate Black History Month. Some of the most popular include:
- Supporting black-owned businesses and restaurants in your local area
- Visiting an African American history museum
- Donating to black charities and organizations
- Watching and/or reading movies and books by black creatives
- Attending Black History Month events
These are great ways to learn more about black culture and history while celebrating those around you. However, many of these ideas may be difficult for a company to participate in. So how can you celebrate Black History Month at work?
Ideas for Celebrating Black History Month at Work
Whether your company has a large number of black employees or not, learning more about black history, culture, and people can be a thought-provoking, even life-changing experience. Giving people the opportunity to learn about viewpoints and experiences different than their own can help promote understanding and inclusion. One great way to accomplish this is to bring in a speaker or two to share their knowledge and experience. Local activists, influential authors, or knowledgeable historians/teachers are great ideas!
You could also visit the civil rights digital library or provide ways to learn more through the national archives. Another educational option would be a virtual visit to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Encourage everyone to expand their knowledge and increase their understanding.
Take advantage of book club.
Does your company already have a book club? If so, consider choosing a book by a black author for the month of February. Here are some recommendations for any and all bookworm tastes:
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris
Even a quick Google search will provide dozens of amazing options to read. And if your company doesn’t have a book club, you can still purchase copies of these books and loan them out to employees.
Get out and volunteer (or donate).
Hosting a company-wide volunteer event is a great way to build relationships and strengthen teams at your organization. And with many hands comes the opportunity for a lot of good work. Do some research into your local community to see which black-led organizations and nonprofits your company can help.
You can also set up a collection for donations throughout the month. Cash donations can make a huge difference for organizations and nonprofits, so this is a great opportunity to make a difference, especially for those in your organization that may not be able to volunteer.
Attend virtual events.
While you may not be able to take your employees on a field trip to a local event, the Smithsonian Institution is offering in-person and online events that you can attend throughout the month. From videos to interviews to virtual museum tours, these are great options to get out of the office and participate in Black History Month without actually leaving.
Celebrate Black History Month
Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate diversity and recognize what makes us all unique. Make sure all employees feel comfortable discussing and embracing their cultures by providing venues for this kind of candor, and ensure you don’t downplay demographic differences. You should recognize and celebrate these differences in a healthy, supportive way.
Download our celebration kit to get more ideas and templates for celebrating Black History Month.
Download celebration kit.Download Kit
Get the most out of your celebrations!
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