How 15 Millennials Celebrate Black History Month 2018, From Watching “Black Panther” To Being “Unapologetically Black”
It’s the first day of Black History Month, and Black Twitter is already having a great time sharing .gifs, memes, and hot takes about the blackest month of the year. There are so many ways to celebrate Black History Month, and as I scrolled down my TL, I began to wonder how other Black millennials were celebrating the month-long holiday.
It may sound cliché, but I truly celebrate Black History Month year-round. I do this by reading Black authors’ books, sharing my knowledge with others, and volunteering for organizations that benefit Black people and communities, but there’s always more that can be done — and Black History Month is a great time to do it. Lanice Williams, a public and global health advocate, tells Bustle she celebrates by “remembering the contributions that Blacks have made in shaping the world we live in today.”
Nia Decaille, an audience producer for The Washington Post, tells Bustle, “Black millennials are reclaiming what it means to celebrate Black History Month. We were taught that our history is only relevant during this one month and that we should view it a certain way. I think we are transcending those very limited and oppressive ideas. Black history isn’t finite and is happening all the time. It should be celebrated all year long, and our pride will continue to change that.”
Decaille’s sentiments are definitely echoed by the other folks I spoke with. Ahead, see how 15 millennials are celebrating Black History Month in February — and every other month of the year, too.
Melissa Kimble runs a digital media platform called #blkcreatives “that supports and empowers professional Black creatives in the film, art, design, media and tech industries.” She tells Bustle that #blkcreatives will be “spotlighting creatives who are moving the culture forward in their respective fields.” Later this month, she’s also launching a “community service program to help underpaid creatives in these various industries.” Kimble is looking ahead to the future regarding Black creative work. “Our creativity is what makes us a force and we want to not just celebrate but protect it and ensure that we’re paving the way for generations to come,” she tells Bustle.
Raianna Brown, a dancer and engineering student, looks forward to volunteering at Super Science Day, which is an annual community service event at the Obama Elementary School in Atlanta. She tells Bustle that she, her mom, and the African-American Student Union at Georgia Tech started this event four years ago. In addition to volunteering, she’ll be supporting Black art and Black creatives. “I’ll be going to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform and of course going to see Black Panther!” she tells Bustle.
Roachele Negron is a textile artist and creator of rayo & honey. In addition to releasing new content on her online shop throughout the month, she’ll be “supporting, sharing, and crediting creative work throughout the month fortifies me with inspiration.”
Serena Sonoma, a reporter at Everyday Feminism and Bustle contributor, will be celebrating and honoring Black trans women and femmes like Masha P. Johnson. “Black trans history is also Black history and should be acknowledged,” she tells Bustle.
Rica G is a teacher and spoken word artist. This month, she’ll be participating in the Make History Month campaign, an initiative that encourages folks to have community-wide “conversations about goal-setting and collective progress. In the classroom.” Rica G also tells Bustle that she’ll “be discussing the African origins of binary code and computing systems” with middle schoolers in Atlanta as a way to use computing for social justice.
“Black History goes beyond a 28-day celebration; it is a way of life,” Tyler Young, a writer, tells Bustle. “I celebrate Black art, Black excellence, and Black life by volunteering with Black organizations, spending with minority businesses, and spreading positive images on social media."
Jenai Charles, a 21 year old author and creative, points out that Black history doesn’t exclusively mean Black American history. “This Black history month, my focus is to research and honor the contributions of black creatives around the world,” she tells Bustle.
Monica Prince, a poet, tells Bustle she’ll be “going to see Black Panther in theaters on opening night, posting poems by Black poets every day on Facebook, and using Black history flashcards to learn more” about aspects of Black History Month that she doesn’t know. She also plans on “starting a Black girl support group this semester.”
Aryn Frazier tells Bustle that this Black History Month is the first one she’ll be celebrating outside of the United States. The 22 year old Rhodes Scholar will be “reading works produced by Black writers and thinkers” and “generally loving, visibly celebrating, and constantly amplifying my and everybody else’s Blackness.”
Kyla Langdon, a medical student, tells Bustle, “This month, and every month after really, I want to celebrate the beauty in our skin.” She’ll do this by “posting new lookbook pictures and blog posts” on her recently launched website. The posts will focus on her journey as a dancer and aspiring doctor.
Yelitsa Jean-Charles, the founder and creative director of Healthy Roots Dolls, tells Bustle that she didn't embrace Black History Month until college. Making up for lost time, she now celebrates Black History Month by “being unapologetically Black in every way” and by sharing “all the ways that Black people have contributed to the growth of this country from the labor of our ancestors to the clothes and styles we create.”
This Black History Month, Jusme, 22, tells Bustle she’s “learning more about the Black women who have paved the way in all fields of life for us to succeed.” Jusme tells Bustle she’s focusing on Black women in particular because “Black Women possess two characteristics (race and gender) that have historically made the gaps in society’s ladder miles longer for us, but somehow we have continued to climb to the top.”
Shameika Rene, a journalist, will be highlighting the Black musical artists and entertainers who “contributed to America's soundtrack.” She tells Bustle, “ It's important that we recognize our artists and pay homage even when the big awards like the Grammys or AMA's shut them out.”
Hilary Malson, an urban planning PhD student, tells Bustle she plans on “seeing Black Panther, because of course.” She’s also wrapping up some family genealogy research and reading Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction in America.
These Black millennials are simultaneously celebrating the past while shaping how future generations interact with Black History Month, or even making history themselves. I know I have some major inspiration for how I'll be spending February (and, you know, the rest of the year).