In 1976, then President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford extended African American week to a month-long observance. He understood our country needed to honor the accomplishments of African-Americans in our nation’s history.
Celebrate the Good!
For me, as an African-American, Black History Month is important for many reasons. For one, all too often it seems only the most negative parts of the African American community are publicized. Frequently, we are bombarded with images of rowdy athletes and reality stars. It’s as if these are the only examples of the success that black people acquire. Not to mention, we are often led to see unfair stereotypes from a culture and generation that is sadly still learning to accept us. This month gives us an opportunity to shine a light on the positive and drown out the negative.
Observing Black History as a Family
My husband and I make it a point to help our kids learn and understand the not so great parts of Black History. I believe this helps them to really understand how far we’ve come today. As we all know, there is way more to Black history than Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and segregation. Black History Month is an important observance of our nation’s history as a whole. It is a month to promote and witness positive examples of historical events and amazing leaders. We need to keep vigilant as we continue making strides towards change. The best part is anyone can celebrate, and it doesn’t have to be just 28 or 29 days of the year. Our unique history should be celebrated all year long.
Celebrating Black History as a Community
Military families are stationed all over the country, so you may be able to use Black History month as a chance to explore some of the cultural and historical sites near you.
If you are stationed at the Pentagon or any of the military bases close to Washington, D.C., be sure to visit the African American History Museum in Washington D.C. This is one of the newer Smithsonian museums, and it celebrates numerous noteworthy Black people and events.
Birmingham, Alabama is known as the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement. If you are stationed at Maxwell-Gunter AFB, make a trip to the Rosa Parks Museum and the History Museum in Birmingham. You are also close to the Tuskegee Airman Historical Site in Tuskegee, Alabama, which honors the first African-American pilots.
Atlanta, Georgia is home to the Martin Luther King National Historic Site, the APEX Museum, and the Tubman African American Museum. Atlanta is an easy trip from Fort Benning and Fort Jackson. They are also near Columbia, South Carolina, where there is an annual Jubilee Festival of Black History and Culture.
Celebrate the end of segregated schools with a visit to the Brown vs. Board of Education Historic Site. This is an easy drive from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Military families stationed at NAS Great Lakes are close to Chicago, home of the DuSable Museum of African American History. This museum celebrates Black contributions in culture and art.
Black leaders can now be found in every military branch and area of service. But it’s important to remember that this was not always true. If you live near Pensacola, Florida then visit the Chappie James Museum that celebrates the first Black 4-star general of the Air Force.
Please share with us below some of the ways your family observes Black History.
Author: D’Antrese McNeil is a proud military spouse. She is a stay at home mom, as well as a photographer and vlogger/blogger. She is also the Pax River Military Spouse of the Year 2017. D’Antrese is a proud Houston, Texas Native. She enjoys Hip Hop, R and B and country music and is a big Foodie! Check her out on YouTube: D’Antrese Le’Chelle and FaceBook: D’Antrese Le’Chelle.