Friday, February 7, 2020

A Few New Resources for Celebrating Black History Month

February is Black History Month. And it is a reminder for us to be sure and honor and recognize the contributions of Black Americans to our nation's history. Really, it's sad we have to have this reminder and that we don't all just study our nation's history including the contributions of ALL people ALL year long, but I think we all know that our history books tend to focus on one side of the story.

That's why it is important to make sure that our kids are learning about the contributions of people of color. People who DON'T look like them... and people who DO look like them. Arturo Schomburg once said,
"Pride of race is the antidote to prejudice."
And, man, do we have a lot of prejudice flying around right now. Not only does it affect people's attitudes towards each other, but it can affect our attitude towards ourselves. And children, I think, are especially vulnerable to verbal racism. It can damage their self-image and ruin their confidence.

Which is why I so admire puertorriqueño Afro-Latino Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. I only learned about him last year, thanks to MommyMaestra readers who recommended him to me on the MM Facebook page. What a remarkable figure he was and so important to our nation's history.

When he was only in grade school, one of his teachers claimed that blacks had no history, heroes, or accomplishments! That comment stayed with Schomburg. I think a lot of kids would have internalized that and felt bad/ashamed about themselves and their heritage. But, thankfully, Arturo was different; he vowed to prove her wrong and began a lifelong collection of books, letters, music, and art documenting the accomplishments of Africans and the African diaspora. His vast collection eventually became the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library.

Candlewick recently published the picture book shown above... in two versions: English AND Spanish! (Go read about it and request it from your library or order it online!)

Here are a few other new (to me) resources that are great for celebrating Black History Month. Check them out!

• FIRST, have you been watching Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum from PBS KIDS? This month, episodes will air in which Xavier and his friends travel back in time and share stories of African American figures, including baseball player Jackie Robinson and author Zora Neale Hurston.

• ALSO, kids can bring the series to life by coloring this FREE printable of scientist George Washington Carver (shown above), while adding him to their list of role models. Thanks, PBS KIDS!

• Older kids may enjoy this PBS Learning Media video that shares the origin of Black History Month, walking through the key events in history that led to today’s observance in February.


• And in case you missed it, I posted this awesome video about the history of cumbia and how this African beat spread throughout Latin America (and North America!). Our friends over at Risas y Sonrisas shared it. Wow! It's fascinating! Thanks to la gente over at Vox Borders for putting it together. Take a look...


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