Each year, we take 28 days to teach our children about the same four heroes. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rosa Parks. Langston Hughes. Oprah. And while these individuals have made significant contributions to black history, it’s time for us to learn about the unsung heroes who also helped to pave the way.
Jamaican political leader, founder of shipping and passenger transport the Black Star Line, and Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League founder Marcus Garvey said “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Black history is more than just a month.
Learning about our history, origin and culture is a year round activity. That’s why Trish Lewis created the Heritage Box. Trish–who was born and raised in Zimbabwe–and her American husband wanted to teach their children about their legacy–so they created a subscription box as a “tool for families to keep the conversation going year round.”
Designed to build self pride in children and enhance their understanding of their heritage, Heritage Box’s contents are carefully selected by a group of educators, teachers, and a special focus group of children. Each month, Heritage Box brings more history to discover, more Black heroes to learn about, and more African geography to explore right into your home.
Little ones can learn more about their roots and culture through educational cartoons, like Bino and Fino, Meltrek, and Tell Me Who I Am. With brother and sister Bino and Fino, they can explore the history of Nigeria. In Meltrek, they’ll learn about the contributions of ancient Africa, and Tell Me Who I am will give in depth information on historical black figures as they travel through time with Nia, a girl from 14th century Timbuktu.
Adults can find out about the radical Black Panther Party with “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.” This documentary sheds light on the Panther’s history, its enigmatic leaders, and the purpose behind the movement. Panther co-founder Bobby Seale said, “There is an entire generation of young people who know nothing about how viciously the FBI attacked the Black Panther Party, and why.” Young, revolutionary, and determined to make a change, the Black Panthers made history.
You can even learn about your own family’s history. Socamom creator Eva Greene Wilson encourages other moms to reach out to their parents and “ask them if they can talk to them and record their version of events in their lives. In your spare time, you can compare and contrast their recollections with the memories of others, create a timeline, and match photos and newspaper clippings to those memories.” Working with AT &T, Eva chronicled her research of her father’s journey from Trinidad to Washington DC’s Howard University in a special video.
With her husband and children, Eva was able to explore her family’s history. She says involving the kids can be fun for them too. “It can be time consuming, and motherhood is a busy job, I would get the children involved in any library research, have them help match up names, nicknames, and dates, and also let them engage in age appropriate discussions about historical and family events that were happening at that time.”
In February 2016, activist and advocate Danielle Slaughter went to Barnes & Noble to purchase books from their Black History Month displays, “only to find small end caps that were easy to miss.” Danielle took matters into her own hands, contacting Barnes & Noble, and then sharing books about Black history and the Black experience on Facebook–turning her passion into Black History is American History.
Danielle developed a mini monthly curriculum to teach children (and their parents) about Black History all year long. Each month, parents receive a download that includes a vocabulary list, reading lists, 3-4 activities, and a parental guidance section–making learning an activity for the whole family.
This month, our family will be learning about the legacy of Henry “Box” Brown, an enslaved man who escaped to freedom by mailing himself to Pennsylvania abolitionists; Matthew Henson, the first African-American Arctic explorer; and inventors like George Washington Carver, Elijah McCoy, and Lewis Latimer.
How is your family learning about Black history this month?