By grade school most children in the United States have heard of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They are taught that he fought for peace and equality. This month during Black History Month, I encourage you to go beyond teaching your kids about Dr. King. For example, teach your child about Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist who refused to give up her bus seat to a White passenger that ignited a bus boycott in Alabama Montgomery. Her actions helped to spark the way for transportation desegregation in many places across the world. Her story is a part of African American history.
Instead of shielding your child away from hard truths, explain that there was a period of time people were separated due to the color of their skin. There were some people who did not think that was fair. Therefore, men and women united to make a change in the United States. This is a truthful and simple example that teaches not only the truth but also unity and the commonality of a shared goal. It is also a way to teach children how to connect their personal experiences with the world around them.
Another great Black History teaching moment is through television and movies. There are many shows on history lessons and former slaves and abolitionist. There are also books and articles that can help you connect your children with Black History Month. Buy a book by a Black author and make it part of your child’s book collection (I recommend my sister in Christ robynhumphrey.com). Check out her website, her book is kid friendly and comical.
When and if you child asks questions about race discrimination, be upfront, don’t dismiss the questions and sweep them under the rug. Give your child concrete explanations when they have questions. Black History Month is not just an acknowledgement of the experiences of what Black people went through, it is history.
At the end of the day, although we all are different, we are all human beings. God does not prefer one race over another. If children learn this truth early, they will understand that God has a purpose for us all.