February is Black History Month in the U.S. and Canada, a time set aside to recognize the contributions Black Americans have made in every aspect of society. It’s a time to honor the past, celebrate the present, and be inspired by their continued achievements.
Although Black History Month was officially recognized in the U.S. as a national observance in 1976, its origins date back to 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded an organization to research and promote the achievements of Black Americans. His study of Black history led to the creation of Negro History Week in 1926, which later became Black History Month.
Black History Month celebrations will obviously be different this year given the pandemic, and some employers may be thinking about ways to observe the month more thoughtfully. Here are a few things to consider when celebrating Black History Month at work:
- Black History Month is about creating community and connection through education, not just among the Black community, but for anyone who seeks to expand their awareness and understanding. Get involved and embrace the experience.
- Take time to educate yourself about Black history and race & identity. Here are a few resources to help you on your journey.
- Not all Black employees will have the capacity or interest to educate and lead Black History Month events. Sometimes discussing aspects for Black history can be emotionally exhausting, especially considering the traumatizing events of the past year. Invest in resources to make Black History Month a meaningful experience for all employees to enjoy without overburdening a specific group to coordinate the entire experience.
- Show year-round support for the Black community. Consider how you’re amplifying the voices of Black team members, supporting Black-owned business, and making sure your product and services are inclusive.
- If you’re hosting guest speakers, research their speaker fees and don’t assume they are volunteering their time.
Black History Month is a time-honored tradition that does not have to relegated to 28 days. Make it more than a month by informing yourself of the rich and diverse heritage of the African and Black diaspora.
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