Black History Month is observed in the United States and Canada during February each year. The observation of Black History Month started in the United States as a one-week celebration, known then as Negro History Week, led by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Fast forward in 1976, President Gerald Ford officially designated the entire month of February as Black History Month to acknowledge the accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices of Black heroes throughout history – from civil rights leaders, politicians, to leaders in arts, culture, science and more.
This year’s Black History Month theme focuses on the importance of Black Health and Wellness. It acknowledges “the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine,” but other amazing careers, such as “birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc. throughout the African Diaspora.”
At Copper and Brass Sales this month, we will be sharing some resources and information that will help us to acknowledge and honor Black heritage. We’ll also shed a spotlight on some of our own employees.
To kick off this year’s Black History Month, here are three mediums you can explore to learn more about African American heritage and culture, along with a whole different perspective on wellness.
- 1619 by The New York Times | Website
The 1619 Project, published by The New York Times, is an ongoing initiative that highlights how our culture engages with slavery throughout Black history and today. Although this limited five-episode series has sparked some debate among historians and other political commentators, it’s still a great resource for anyone seeking to understand the consequences of slavery and the roles of Black Americans in this story.
- Witness Black History by BBC | Website
There’s no better way to learn than to hear directly from those who encountered first-hand the key moments in Black and Civil Rights history. This podcast comprises these personal interviews in 10-minute episodes and also brings a global perspective from interviewees around the world.
- Everyday Black History | Afro Appreciation | Website
As the title suggests, this is how you’ll experience Black people’s contributions from both the past and present, from science and tech field achievements to music and arts creations. Listen to the episode about how Dr. Alexa Canady overcame a crisis of confidence and became the first Black female neurosurgeon in the US. Become inspired by her devotion and ambition, which resulted in significant contributions to the field of pediatric neurology and the health community overall.
- Black History Year | Website
If you’re looking to hear the Black History that was left out of the books and mainstream conversations, this is the podcast for you. You’ll hear the Black people’s voices and ongoing battles in society along with courageous actions taken in desperate situations. This is an excellent podcast with examples and contextual explanations of topics often discussed in books.
- The Daily Show with Trevor Noah by Comedy Central | Website
To add some twist to the collection of podcasts for Black history, here’s a late-night comedy show that revolves around current events worldwide. While it does not touch on topics strictly of African American history, it does often tackle topics of racial injustice led by Trevor Noah, who is of South African heritage. His insightful observations may leave you pondering, laughing and hopefully not crying. At the end of the day, comedy is part of wellness, and is meant to leave you feeling at least a little better.
A combination of interviews and old documentary footage exposes the truth behind the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in all U.S. states and territories except as punishment for crime. It takes you on a journey about how it currently affects our prison system.
This distinguished piece of art is Pixar’s first animated film featuring a Black lead. The story revolves around the life of a Black man, Joe, and his pursuit of a music career as a jazz musician. Just when Joe was getting closer to his dream, he loses everything and is forced to go through a soul searching journey. Although it wasn’t easy to find his “spark”, Joe discovers the meaning of life and helps others find their purpose and passion along the way. The film brings you the opportunity to re-evaluate life and discover your purpose to living a fulfilling and healthier life.
- High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America
Calling all foodies! This documentary series explores the history of African American cuisine, taking viewers through a historic journey from the market in Africa to a modern kitchen in Texas. You’ll discover the impact of African cuisine on our meals today.
- Soundtrack for a Revolution
A unique mix of freedom songs brings an empowering light to the dark moments of the American civil rights movement. Featuring performances by well-known artists and interview footage from participants and leaders of the civil rights movements, a wide variety of musical performances and historical documentary take you on an audible journey of this transformative time in US History.
- The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
This Emmy Award-winning series goes deeper into Black history’s tragedies, victories and contradictions throughout the past 500 years. It places an emphasis on Black identity from a cultural, religious, and social perspective in the United States today.
- Caring for Equality by David McBride
A crucial read for those who want to explore the important yet overlooked topic of healthcare for African Americans. The author documents common health complications encountered by the Black community such as heart disease and diabetes while uncovering the healthcare injustice for people of color caused by discrimination and racism.
- The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives by Iresha Picot
This book is meant to break through the stigma of mental health illness, more specifically for people in communities of color. It opens up the conversation and emphasizes the importance of mental health through narratives that encompass people from all walks of life. It is a topic of importance in society today specially after the recent events and life changes due to COVID-19.
- The Big Book of Soul: The Ultimate Guide to the African American Spirit by Stephanie Rose Bird
When talking about health and wellness in the African American culture, it’s important to dive into unconventional ways of healing from ancient African traditions. The author delves into the source of soul in African culture and shares recipes, herbal remedies, prayers and healing rituals many African Americans continue to use today.
- Three African-American Classics: Up from Slavery, The Souls of Black Folk and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
This trio of books digs into major themes of Black History such as the fight for equality, slavery and abolition. These influential African American books by Booker T Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois and Frederick Douglass are critical for anyone learning about the civil rights movement and the lives of these influential historical figures.
- Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington
An award-winning book compiling the groundbreaking study of Black American’s mistreatment as experimental subjects at medical establishments from colonial times to the present. It reveals true stories of ‘scientific racism’ and gives readers a full understanding of the roots of African American health deficit.
What Else Can You Do?
While we’ve shared a good list of resources for you to expand your knowledge on Black History Month, these are only a few of the options available. If you’re aspiring to educate yourself further, read another invaluable list of recommendations on the topic of Black History that we’ve shared in the past. We hope this list inspires you to seek and encourage others to continuously learn, acknowledge and celebrate Black History beyond the month of February. We must work together in order to continue to move forward.