Why do we celebrate Black History Month?
Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country’s history.
February was chosen primarily because the second week of the month coincides with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Lincoln was influential in the emancipation of slaves, and Douglass, a former slave, was a prominent leader in the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery.
Lincoln and Douglass were both born in the second week of February. Therefore, it was traditionally a time when African Americans would hold celebrations in honor of emancipation.
Best practices for celebrating Black History Month in the workplace
#1 Don’t Be Color Blind. Race in the workplace can be a touchy subject. Many organizations try to be “colorblind” in a misguided attempt at establishing equality.
#2 Make it a Company Wide Effort. In the spirit of inclusivity, everyone in your organization should be encouraged to participate with enthusiasm. It should not be the sole responsibility of Black employees to organize their own recognition. You will find that it’s transformative to have employees of every background participating and learning during Black History Month.
#3 Consider Areas of Growth. It is important to understand your organization’s areas of growth. Black History Month is a great opportunity to do that. If you find your company is lacking in its diversity and inclusion practices, why not take the time to examine your current recruiting, interviewing, and on-boarding processes?
1. Bring in Speakers
Bring in influential authors, historians, or activists to educate your employees about race relations, civil rights, and other critical topics surrounding Black identity.
Generate a panel discussion. This will allow for multiple speakers to bounce ideas around for a thorough conversation. Or form a presentation that will really highlight a speaker’s area of expertise. Whichever style your company goes with, it’s sure to be an engaging and thought-provoking experience.
2. Organize a Black History Month Workshop
Workshops are typically encouraged to be hands-on and involve critical thinking. While there’s usually still a main speaker or facilitator involved, workshops encourage participants to not only listen but to be active in the session as well.
3. Volunteer in the Community
Volunteering in the community with local nonprofits and charities is an excellent way to show your support. This opportunity will also allow for time to bond with team members and inspire engagement and motivation in the workplace.
4. Donate to an Organization
Arrange a fundraiser to support racial justice, or donate to an organization in your local community. Find ways you can support black-owned businesses or charities.
Donating is one of the most impactful things you can give to a charity, especially when it has to do with education or legal funds.
5. Recognize Black History
Black History Month is a great time to think about your company’s current diversity and inclusion efforts, and make changes as needed.
Change starts with the leadership of the company. Consistently bring new ideas for change to the leaders of the company, in efforts that they will act on these ideas.
Be intentional with the company’s initiatives. For example: create a safe space for employees to discuss current events in their community. This will show that you care about people’s differences as a company. Seek out and listen to the perspectives and opinions of those you are trying to include. Reach out to any Black leaders in your organization to get input on effective ways to recognize Black History Month and beyond.
Learning about other cultures helps us to understand how much we are really alike. I hope this blog was helpful for you in finding Black History Month event ideas in the workplace.
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