February is officially African American History Month, also called Black History Month, and this year you may find more resources than ever due to several special occasions.
First, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream…” speech. It is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a pivotal piece of legislation in the history of the country.
This national tribute to African American heritage was started by Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson as a weeklong celebration in 1926 and expanded to a month-long celebration in 1976, the bicentennial. Each year, the celebration takes on a theme and in 2013 the theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History”.
Help your child understand the importance of this annual tribute by exploring local events at libraries and community centers, along with the following resources.
Read about it.
Each year since Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States issues a proclamation on National African American History Month. Read it together online at whitehouse.gov. The National Education Association also offers a great African American Booklist for kids at nea.org/grants/13542.htm
Visit historic monuments.
Even if you can’t get there in person, you can see the Lincoln Memorial and the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, both located in Washington, D. C., by visiting the National Park Service.
Discover a colorful history.
Many museums offer great online resources for families. The DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art provide links to draw a mask or design kente cloths. The Library of Congress hosts a website dedicated to African American History Month, including videos of authors and artists at www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.