While Black History is American History, each February we have the opportunity to be intentional in observing and reflecting upon the contributions African Americans have made to our country. The following are some unique ways that senior care providers can celebrate Black History Month in February and beyond. Take a look at these Black History Month activity ideas:
Create a Chitlin’ Circuit playlist and have a dance
The Chitlin’ Circuit (1930s-1960s) grew out of a time when African-American entertainers were not allowed to perform in or attend white establishments during the Jim Crow era. The circuit became a network of black-owned nightclubs, dance halls, and juke joints in the South, East Coast and parts of the Midwest. Artists such as B.B. King, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, James Brown, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Ike & Tina Turner, and Gladys Knight & the Pips got their start on the Chitlin’ Circuit. StoriiCare clients can use the Playlists section to create a stream of these artists. You can even include educational YouTube videos about the Chitlin’ Circuit like this one.
Have a Wild West Day in honor of America’s Black Cowboys
Hollywood would have you believe there were only Anglo-Saxon cowboys, but cattle ranch work was one of the few jobs available for black men after the emancipation. Historians estimate that 1 in 4 cowboys was black. Did you know the song “Home on the Range” was based on a folklorist’s field recording in 1908 of a retired black cowboy who’d once ridden the Chisholm Trail? And the Lone Ranger was based on the exploits of Bass Reeves, the first African American to become a U.S. Marshal?
Create traditional African masks
Spend some time looking at traditional ceremonial masks worn by African tribes. There are many ways to go about this and lots of DIY videos and instructions out there ranging from the very simple to fairly elaborate. Here is just one example:
This site includes information on the history, function, role, styles, etc. of these masks.
Virtually visit the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Schomburg Center is located in Harlem, NY but their digital collections feature live streaming events, online exhibits, oral histories, interviews, and podcasts. If you’re located in NY or somewhere nearby, consider a visit, too!
You can also digitally view Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans, from the Cook Collection. This is a digital collection of over 250 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century
Learn about the art of Stepping
Step Afrika! tours the country so you might be able to catch a performance. That said, it is worth exploring and watching videos regardless!
Host a Black Poetry Reading
Dim the lights, play some jazz between performances, snap fingers, and have residents or guests recite a poem or two of their choice. The Poetry Foundation has great resources to get you started!
Do you have more Black History Month activity ideas? How did you celebrate in your community? Comment with your ideas or stories below!