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What I Practiced During Black History Month

Ellen McGirt calls herself a journalist who writes a newsletter. She curates stories on race for Fortune Magazine in the newsletter RaceAhead. I have read Ellen’s newsletter and followed her on social media for several years. In 2021, as the COVID pandemic continued, I noticed that Ellen was drawing water drops each day and posting them on Twitter amongst her sharing of stories about race, fly fishing, and life. Her drawings looked more and more realistic as 2021 progressed. In January 2022, Ellen shared this post:

Ellen was engaging in a mindful practice to learn about herself and train her to look at the world in a deeper, more empathetic way. I was inspired. What if I could share an element of Black History each day in February just as Ellen had shared her raindrops. How would my understandings about myself, my history, and the teaching of Black History be transformed?

I grew to love posting each day because it helped me articulate so much of what I was learning during the course of Black History Month 2022. A highlight of the month was being in the presence of the Black History Nerds for February Saturday School. Every Saturday for one hour I joined this online community led by the Head Nerd, LaGarrett King, and listened to scholarship on Black History. It led me back to text I had not read since college and introduced me to new work such as Jarvis Givens Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching.

LaGarrett King’s paper “Black History is Not American History: Toward a Framework of Black Historical Consciousness” included six principles of Black Historical Consciousness that served as a filter for my posts. The posts can be accessed on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

This month of writing each day about Black History left me optimistic about the potential in our Black Studies curriculums. I look forward to seeing a more complex and innovative curriculum for our students.

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