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
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
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:
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
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,
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
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
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To get more information and inspiration for your next project visit our
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.