In our house, Black history is not a month; Black history is EVERY DAY!
I understand that this is not the case in a lot of homes. Especially as we focus during Black History Month, I want to educate and provide insight on what you can do with your children to expose them to Black history.
I want to expose my children not only to the continuous ongoing stories around Martin Luther King Jr., but I want them to know about the stories around the Black community overall. When we are reading books and watching movies, I want them to not only be able to learn about their culture, but to learn about all different types of stories, good and bad. A big majority of this insight has to do with the fact that I was not exposed to this in my childhood.
Individuals reading this may be able to relate. In a majority of your schools, you learned about the basic Black history around individuals such as MLK, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, and Madam C. J. Walker. Did you hear about Lewis Latimer who invented the carbon filament, which led to Thomas Edison and the lightbulb? Did you learn about Garrett Morgan who invented the gas mask and the traffic signal? No? I didn’t either!
With that being said, here are a few movies that you can watch this month with your kids to expand your knowledge around Black history. I have also included a few museums that you can visit to immerse yourself in the culture.
These movies I would say are appropriate for children ages eight and above. These are movies that I really introduced into my nine-year-old son’s life last year. Selma was eye opening for him to watch and came with a lot of follow-up questions. The Color of Friendship was extremely age-appropriate and relatable for him to watch, as well as easy to grasp the concept of what was being taught through the theme.
- Selma (PG-13, Amazon Prime) is an overview of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Ruby Bridges (PG, Amazon Prime) is about Ruby Bridges, the first African American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the South.
- Hidden Figures (PG, Disney Plus) is a movie centered around the team of female African American mathematicians who served a major role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.
- The Help (PG-13, Amazon Prime) is about an author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s that decides to write a book about the African American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and all of the hardships that they endure and go through on a daily basis.
- The Color of Friendship (TV-G, Disney Plus) is a movie about a white South African girl who finds herself in a difficult situation when she is sent to spend a term with a Black family in the United States.
- The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is located in downtown Detroit. If you have a chance to visit, you will be in for a treat. The museum has multiple exhibits that explore the diverse history and very rich culture of African Americans. The exhibits also explore their African origins. It was a life-changing experience the first time that I visited. Walking through the slave ship quarters and inserting myself into the experience left me speechless and emotional.
- The Henry Ford is located in Dearborn. When you first think of the Henry Ford, you may not think of Black history. When you visit, you can see and sit on the bus that Rosa Parks sat on, in her spot. You will see the history posted around Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. You will be in awe of the things that have systematically occurred in our history (and are currently still happening).
- The Motown Museum is located in downtown Detroit. This museum is filled with wonder and amazement. It surrounds the history of the music industry that began here in Detroit. That music industry really led the movement of a large majority of the music you hear and listen to today.
This is just a snippet of how you can introduce your children, in an age-appropriate manner, to Black history. Hopefully, one of these resources can spark conversations in your home and lead to more learning, growing, watching, and recognition.
Our young social justice warriors deserve to learn about more than the superficial, surface-level Black history that our schools tread upon lightly when they teach. I do understand that most of this is due to what the district allows, not what the teachers really want to include. I have so many teacher friends/family that want to teach more, but are not allowed due to certain restrictions. The students deserve to learn about the untold stories behind slavery and the civil rights movement. They deserve to learn about our current events around George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (in an age-appropriate manner, of course).
They deserve to be taught that Black history is not just a month, it’s every day.