In February, We asked Manager of Educational Opportunities Brandi Giles for some tips on celebrating Black history in Louisville. Here is what Brandi had to say!
1. Spend time recognizing more obscure African-American figures.
Honoring the lives and triumphs of well-known African-American heroes like Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman will never go out of style. However, there are many other personalities in Black history that tend to be overshadowed by these towering figures. This February, shed some light on the likes of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to run for president and Garrett Morgan, a Kentucky native and the man responsible for the modern traffic light to give your child the thrill of discovering something new and give them a better understanding of the vast depth and scope of Black history. At The Cabbage Patch, researching a lesser known Black hero and presenting that person to the group is a staple of our Black History Month Programming. Our kids get excited when they hear about someone from Black History they have never heard of before.
2. Visit historical Black landmarks in our community
Giving your children the experience of standing in the same space where Black History unfolded gives it a new energy and significance. Give your observance of Black History Month a renewed perspective by visiting the West Louisville Branch of the Public Library, the first library to service and be operated by African-Americans in the country, or by walking down Muhammad Ali Boulevard what used to be known as Old Walnut Street, the center of Black social life and commerce in the 50s and 60s. Read the markers that explain the importance of these places with your child and see what else you can discover about them on your trip.
3. Take a field trip to an African-American field trip site
Louisville is home to many wonderful, interactive field trips sites that are perfect for observing Black History Month. At The Cabbage Patch, we love visiting the Muhammad Ali Center. Our kids love the boxing ring, sharing their “red bike” moment and learning the story of Ali’s life in the Ali Center theatre. The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage is another great place for kids to learn about Black history. The volunteers and employees there have a wealth of knowledge about Black history in Kentucky and especially highlight lesser known Black history facts. The Louisville Public Library has some of our favorite Black history programming in Louisville. Some of our favorite free Library events are the Black Superhero Showcase at the Portland Library and the Black History film series at the main branch. Enjoy these destinations with your family.
4. Listen to the experiences of elderly community members about growing up in Louisville
Our kids hear a lot about the Civil Rights Movement in school, but the gravity and importance of this historic time is made more real when heard from someone who actually experienced it. Talking to a grandparent, relative or known community member about life in Black Louisville during the 50s and 60s gives them a chance to share memories and stories while allowing children to ask questions and be engaged. Talking with my grandmother I learned that she was the first black waitress at the front of the house in Woolworth’s diner. Her boss placed her there to deter rioters during the turbulent 1960s. Learning about this gave me a new appreciation of this time and the role of those I love in it. Interviewing elderly community members about their experience as a youth is an engaging inter-generational activity that will ignite your child’s interest in the past.
5. Talk about how they can make Black history
Black History Month provides the perfect opportunity to talk with your child their goals and aspirations. Learning about the amazing accomplishments of revered African-Americans leads smoothly into asking your child about how they plan on making their lives worthy of remembrance. Help them form an idea of what they want their future to hold and then encourage them to make a plan of how that future can happen. At the Cabbage Patch we like to have our members draft a timeline of their future that highlights major milestones like going to college and starting their career. This activity gets them started thinking about their lives and the impact they would like to make in the world. The act of writing goals down increases the likelihood that they will one day follow through with their plan. Reminding our kids that they can be the Barack Obamas and Bessie Colemans of tomorrow brings the study of Black History full circle.