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How to observe & honor Black History Month year-round

Celebrate Black History Month

The history of Black Americans is a story of impressive ingenuity, growth and strength in the face of often extremely difficult circumstances. February is when people in the United States celebrate Black History Month, a time for Americans of all backgrounds to learn more about the steadfast leadership and enduring contributions of Black Americans.

As you think about creating a legacy and living your values, Black History Month offers many opportunities to do just that. In addition to learning about history, there are actions you can take to meaningfully impact people in your local community and promote a future full of opportunity for everyone.

How to give back during Black History Month

Creating economic inclusion and opportunity for Black Americans is key to building a more equitable future for all Americans. Here are some meaningful actions you can take this Black History Month and throughout the rest of the year.

Support Black-owned businesses

More and more, Americans want to know how the products and services they purchase affect people along the whole supply chain. Many are choosing to shop locally, buy things that are produced ethically and support the diversity of their local communities. Buying from Black-owned brands and local businesses is one way to support entrepreneurs nationally and locally.

Several websites and apps maintain directories of Black-owned businesses. Online shopping has made it easier than ever to find and buy products from Black-owned brands in almost every category imaginable: beauty products, clothing, food, and home goods, to name just a few.

Take the time to explore and discover Black-owned businesses in your own community such as restaurants and retail stores. This is a great way to build new connections—and friendships—while also using your dollars to build a strong, inclusive local economy.

Contribute to charitable organizations

The facts and figures don't lie: Generational wealth is very helpful for keeping families afloat during tough circumstances, and Black Americans often have fewer generational resources than other Americans.

Charitable organizations are filling the gap in many ways: supporting the basic needs of people living in underserved communities, teaching financial literacy, offering leadership development and mentoring, providing scholarships and grants, illuminating a path to home ownership and much more. Take the time to learn about organizations, either by speaking to people in your local community or using a website like Charity Navigator, and find a nonprofit that aligns with your values and vision for the future.

Once you've found a nonprofit you would like to support, make your donation go further by using matching resources. Many employers match their employees' charitable contributions; check with your Human Resources or benefits team to see if your employer offers donation matching.

If you're donating online, consider how you make the donation and whether fees will be deducted. On Thrivent's website, you can make a personal donation to your favorite enrolled organization and Thrivent pays the processing fees. Eligible clients with membership also can direct Choice Dollars to the organization of their choice.

Volunteer your time and talent

We are all called to be in community with one another and to be of service. Seek opportunities to share your talents and skills with organizations advancing Black communities. For example, if you have specialized professional experience, you might consider mentoring young people who are interested in a career in your field.

If you see a need in your community, you may feel inspired to lead a project of your own. Available to Thrivent clients with membership, Thrivent Action Teams provide resources to put on a fundraiser, educational event or service activity. Thrivent provides the resources you need to get started – including up to $250 in seed money. Then you and your team bring your project to life.

Ways to learn and connect in Black History Month and beyond

Whether you want to be a better ally or are part of the Black community and wish to learn more, here are some suggestions for educating yourself and expanding your horizons:

Educate yourself on Black history

If you feel you haven't had ample opportunity to learn about the experiences of Black Americans, now is the time to start. You can visit libraries that spotlight books by Black authors about Black experiences. You can watch movies and documentaries about key moments in the history of Black Americans. You can learn more about unsung Black artists who have made enormous contributions to popular culture.

Thrivent client Deborah Shaver's Thrivent Action Team worked to expand the number of books by Black authors—and about Black history—in her local library. This entailed evaluating the options available at the library in Chilton, Wisconsin, and compiling lists of additional books that could bring new and historically significant perspectives to her community. She then promoted the new collection in the surrounding area, ensuring more people would gain access to the books.

Explore connection through the arts

Black Americans' artistic contributions are rich and varied. Many museums, theaters and music venues host special events during Black History Month to shine a spotlight on Black creators and performers. Seek out local events to deepen your cultural awareness, discover new favorite artists and connect with your community.

So much of what makes Black History Month meaningful is fostering a sense of togetherness and highlighting surprising connections. For instance, Thrivent client Karen Anderson opted to put on a concert in her St. Paul, Minnesota, community that brought together a classical symphony orchestra with students from a hip-hop music class. It promoted the students' original compositions and gave everyone who participated a new perspective on hip-hop. Music can connect people across diverse cultural backgrounds, forging new friendships between all kinds of people.

Celebrate Black leaders and visionaries in your field

One of the most inspiring parts of Black History Month is the opportunity to learn about key figures who held a pioneering role or created a well-known invention in a field or industry that you work in or find interesting. Finding and sharing information about how Black leaders have contributed to the arts, sciences, faith and finance communities is an inspiring lesson to take on this February and beyond.

If, for instance, you want to learn about how Black Americans have contributed to the financial system in the United States, consider learning more about Maggie Lena Walker, who in 1903 was the first Black woman to become a founder and president of a bank. Learning more about her history in Richmond, Virginia, sheds light on how important it is to have trustworthy, effective financial institutions in order to build a strong financial future.

Your whole family—children in particular—can benefit from spending this month and the rest of the year learning about the many contributions that Black Americans have brought to their local and national communities.

Visit historically important places to learn more about Black culture

While reading articles on the Internet or books from the library can be a good way to engage with Black History Month from home, your community is truly built out in public. Whether you plan a trip to a museum or center that celebrates Black culture, or make a trip to an important civil rights site, seeing history come to life is powerful for all ages.

Thrivent client Anne Pietscher of Keokuk, Iowa, lives just down the Mississippi River from where the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn takes place. Anne hosted a community event in which she invited a speaker from the Huck Finn Freedom Center, a Black history museum, to present a program about their region's history within the broader context of the American Civil Rights Movement. For attendees of the event, it brought Black history to life in a more personal and tangible way.

Another powerful way to learn about Black history is to take a civil rights pilgrimage to historically important sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks, primarily in the Southern states, where activists challenged segregation in the 1950s and 1960s to advance social justice. Planning such a trip with a community or church group could be a life-changing educational journey.

Need more inspiration?

Thrivent supports its members in their efforts to live generously and make a positive contribution to their communities.

To get more information and inspiration for your next project visit our Thrivent Action Teams Hub. From brainstorming ideas to stories celebrating the impact of generosity, the Hub has everything you need for success—in one convenient location.

If you want to support your community with your time, attention and money, considering these Black History Month ideas is a wonderful way to begin. As you form new bonds with those around you, it will be easy to see where more connections and support could help your neighbors during all the other months of the year.


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