7 ways to celebrate black lives and excellence during Black History Month

Image: MASHABLE COMPOSITE / Gorbash Varvara / Shutterstock

While black excellence deserves to be celebrated every day, Black History Month offers a dedicated time to pay attention to the power and resilience of the black community.

February’s celebration is a reminder to seek out stories and histories that often go overlooked but it also serves as a call to recognize the various black leaders in our own lives.

Even though it’s the shortest month of the year, there’s a lot you can do to show your appreciation for the community in just 28 days. Here are a few ways you can honor black lives and culture this Black History Month.

1. Support black-owned businesses

Image: KYRA’S SHEA MEDLEYS

Supporting passionate and tenacious black entrepreneurs is one way to give directly to the black community during Black History Month and beyond. Spending your money at a black-owned business is an impactful form of economic empowerment.

To find black-owned businesses near you, try the tips listed here. To shop at black-owned businesses online that also give back to good causes, check out the recommendations here.

2. Seek out black history in your local area

Charles Boyles looks at the exhibition at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago.

Image: Tae-Gyun Kim/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Black history is everywhere, but we don’t always recognize it. This Black History Month, pick up where your history class undoubtedly left off by learning about historical black influencers in your community.

Visit a local museum that showcases the contributions of the black community to your area. Visit your local library or historical society to read about the triumphs of black leaders in your community’s past. Look more into your own family’s history to uncover the black excellence in your bloodline.

Get to know how black history has had an influence on your present then spread that knowledge and appreciate it moving forward.

3. Support influential black nonprofits

Racial justice activists work tirelessly year-round to advocate for the equal treatment of black people. From tackling police violence to helping black girls break into the tech industry, various nonprofits work to create opportunity and well-being for the black community.

This month, consider donating money or your time to one of the nonprofits below to help continue their vital work.

  • Black Lives Matter and Campaign Zero, nonprofits dedicated to ending police brutality, which disproportionately targets the black community

  • Black Girls Code, an organization empowering young black girls to excel in tech through mentorships and instruction

  • NAACP, a historic organization supporting the political, educational, social and economic equality of the black community

  • SisterLove, an AIDS and reproductive justice nonprofit particularly focused on the health of black women

  • Trans Women of Color Collective, a grassroots nonprofit supporting trans and gender-nonconforming people of color in leadership roles

4. Learn about unsung heroes of black history

Image: Vicky Leta / Mashable

History classes often focus on the victories of white men but that’s only part of the story.

During Black History Month, honor the struggles and triumphs of the black community, especially those usually erased from history. While digging up overlooked stories can take time and effort, the payoff is a more comprehensive understanding of what the past really looked like.

To get started, check out these essential heroes you should know then commit to diving deeper into the past.

5. Celebrate black literature

Image: HARPER & ROW PUBLISHERS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, CREATESPACE INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING PLATFORM

Literature, both nonfiction and fiction, is a vital way for marginalized communities to claim ownership over their stories and experiences. But the work of black writers isn’t always as celebrated as the work of white authors.

This month, swap out some of your favorite classics with modern books by black authors using this guide, or sign up for a subscription service that champions black literature throughout the year.

Beyond Black History Month, commit to supporting the work of black writers on a daily basis.

6. Become a mentor

Everyone can use a little help in reaching success. To help lift up black talent this February, consider becoming a mentor to a child or younger coworker.

By encouraging the talent, skill and passion of black youth and young adults, you can help support the next generation of black leaders who will fight inequality in their communities. In the process of lending your experience to someone just starting out, their fire and passion is bound to inspire you, too.

For tips to keep in mind when mentoring black youth, check out this essential guide.

7. Support black creatives

‘Rediscover, not recreate.’ From “Abstract Peaces,” 2016.

Image: COURTESY OF TSOKU MAELA

From poets to visual artists and musicians, black creatives play an essential role in creating and sustaining black culture.

This Black History Month, take time to support the artistic expression of the black community and the undeniable importance of black culture. Championing black creativity can be as simple and as rewarding as buying the work of black artists or attending an event that showcases their talent.

Not sure where to start? To freshen up your daily playlist, check out these Afrofuturist musicians. To celebrate black art, check out these artists boldly documenting their experiences with mental illness through their work.

Celebrate black culture by taking time to appreciate those who are at the frontlines of creating it.

BONUS: 5 unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement you need to know

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/04/black-history-month-ways-to-celebrate/