Celebrating Black History: A Few Dos & Don’ts
Updated: Apr 19
While origins of Black History Month began as early as 1915 with historian Carter G. Woodson, PhD and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland, it wasn’t until 1976 that we started celebrating it on the national level. For the last 45 years, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorses a specific theme. This year’s theme, chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH), “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African Diaspora throughout the United States. The ASAALH will also be diving deeper into this theme all month long with a virtual festival. We will definitely be tuning in to continue our own education and learn from important scholars, authors and more.
It’s important to celebrate Black History Month whether it be with your family or with your colleagues. And if you choose to celebrate at your workplace, we have a few Dos and Don’ts to help your celebration have lasting impact.
DON'T celebrate people of the past exclusively. Of course, there are many amazing Black leaders in many different fields that have made important contributions throughout history but remember, there are still Black leaders who do incredible work right now. So…
DO celebrate Black leaders who are making a huge impact today like Stacey Abrams who has been working hard in Georgia to combat voter suppression. Susan Burton who is the Founder and Executive Director of A New Way of Life which helps to support formerly incarcerated women. Mark E. Dean, one of the top engineers at IBM and holds over 20 patents and is credited with contributing to various technological achievements such as the color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. Kimberlé Crenshaw who is a Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School and is a leading authority in the area of civil rights, constitutional law, race, and gender equality and so much more. Those are just to name a few! And look locally – who are the Black entrepreneurs and business owners who you can celebrate and support this month?
Don’t stop your celebration when the month ends.
Do take the time to reflect on whether you are celebrating Black culture, figures and businesses only in February and why that might be the case. Do find ways to celebrate all year long and not just in the shortest month of the year.
DON'T use Black History Month as a marketing campaign. Don’t make a social media post because you know it will get traction. Don’t create an ad because you think you should. You shouldn’t be using Black History Month to show that your business cares about diversity, equity and inclusion.
DO celebrate Black History Month because you care about diversity, equity and inclusion. Whether or not your company has the diversity numbers you want, creating a culture where employees celebrate one another’s cultures and backgrounds will create a welcoming environment where employees want to work and will feel motivated to work harder. Celebrate Black History Month because you want to build community and bond with your team members.
Happy Black History Month!
Written by Katie Avila Loughmiller