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Change Up Your Black History Month Programming

January 30th, 2018

African American Student on college campus

Black History Month is almost here. Now truth be told I am not a fan of segregated history months like Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Jewish American History, or Hispanic Heritage Awareness Month.  This concept isn’t new, nor is it mine, but I think it makes sense to study them as part of American History. For years, one of the speakers that we work with, Joel Christian Gill, has used the #28daysarenotenough because his belief is that to segregate these months makes it seem as if their history isn’t part of the fabric of American History. This also has us teaching history out of historical context. We need to acknowledge the significant contributions all these groups have had in creating this great country of ours.


Far too often when people program for Black History Month they lean towards a lecture discussing some aspect of the contributions one or more individuals have made to this country. It is relevant, important and often very boring. Don’t get me wrong, this is a valuable program to put on but is it really engaging people? Here are some new ideas to try on your campus. Many of these you can do yourself but if not there are companies that you can go to for help.


  1. A Cultural Dinner

Face it – people love food. There is no better way to share culture, heritage, and stories than over a meal. There are many ways that you can do this. You can work with the food services to plan and execute the meal. If allowed, you can work with an outside vendor or restaurant. You can even do it as a potluck.


  1. A Black History Month Game Show

People love game shows. You can create a Jeopardy-style show with questions from a wide range of categories like history, music, sports, television, food, politics, literature, and more. Your community will have fun and learn in the process.


  1. A Paint Party with a Themed Painting

Paint parties are huge now, so why not create a special painting that represents Black History month. This is something that is perfect for a Black Student Union to co-sponsor with the Program Board. This can be a great fun community builder.


  1. Student /Faculty Photography and or Art Exhibit

Most campuses have talented artists who use a wide range of mediums to express their point of view. Tap into this creative culture and create an art exhibit for staff, students, and the community to view. Make sure to put this in a high traffic area. You will get people involved that may never have been involved before.


  1. Ted-Style Talks with Students and Staff

Allow people to tell stories of their family history or life-changing moments that they have had. If you record them it can be a powerful part of the school's history as well as a community builder. Don’t just tell the stories, but process it afterward.


These historical months are a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourselves as well as your programming. Look at this as a way to change things up and bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to your campus.

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