Looking for tangible, concrete ways for your family to celebrate Black History Month at home? In our Catholic School, it’s critical that our students learn about the importance of Black History and celebrate different cultural traditions this month and always.
What better an opportunity than Black History Month to share some resources with our families?
Here are 5 activities to keep the conversation going at home. The whole family is sure to learn something! Number 5 may have you singing in your kitchen.
1) Read Stories of Inspiring Black Christians
Do you already read a book at bedtime? An easy way for your family to learn about Black History is to read stories. Here are some books to add to your collection.
Lower Elementary school aged:
This gem of a book is a resounding, reverent tribute to Harriet Tubman, the woman who earned the name “Moses” for her heroic role in the Underground Railroad. It’s a unique picture book with dialogue that is a back-and-forth conversation with God. It’s a moving book to show children the power of prayer.
Great Black Catholics is a beautiful board book that features incredible Black Catholics from all over the world, including those that have been named Venerable, Blessed and Saint.
This book tells the inspirational true story of a brave little six-year-old who was the first to integrate her local elementary school. The book shares her incredible witness of faith and prayer, as this extraordinary little girl lived out Christ’s command to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
This vibrantly illustrated book introduces children to the life of St. Martin de Porres, a remarkable and courageous saint who is the patron of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and those seeking and working for racial harmony.
Middle school aged kids:
With every passing year since her death in 1990, more people are recognizing Sister Thea Bowman as one of the most inspiring figures in American Catholic history. This granddaughter of slaves converted to Catholicism on her own at the age of nine. As a Franciscan sister, she lived a wide-ranging ministry of joy, music, and justice.
This is the first book to explore the lives of the six Black Catholics from the United States whose causes are under formal consideration by the Catholic Church for canonization. It includes biographies and personal reflections from diverse contributors.
FAMILY CHALLENGE: Go to your local library and find a book that is not on this list that is about a black Christian, a black Catholic, or a black person who did something historically honorable. Share your findings with each other.
2) Diversify Your Saint Collection
Black History Month is a great opportunity to make sure that your Saint collection is diverse.
If you have Saint peg dolls, make sure you have some black Saint peg dolls. If you have Saint books, make sure this includes some black Saints. If you have Saint holy cards, make sure you have some black Saint holy cards.
This could be the perfect opportunity to boost your collections!
Here are some Saints to get you started:
- Josephine Bakhita– patron Saint against human trafficking
- Martin de Porres– patron Saint of social justice & people of mixed race
- Monica– patron Saint of wives and abuse victims
- Augustine– patron Saint of theologians
- Saints Perpetua and Felicity– patron Saints of expectant mothers
- Saint Benedict The Moore– patron Saint of black Americans
- Moses The Black– patron Saint of Africa
- Kizito– patron of children and primary schools
- Charles Lwanga –African Catholic Youth Action, converts, torture victims
- Elesbaan– King of Ethiopia
- Adela– Princess
FAMILY CHALLENGE: Learn about a black Saint a day during the month of February, using this guided calendar.
3) Pray: Reflect on Black History with Prayer
Prayer is a great way to bring the family together. Use this opportunity to bring a special intention to your prayers: learning more about black history. Here are two ways how:
Look To Him And Be Radiant has a free printable resource to pray to a Litany of Black Saints. You can fill one in with your children, or you can also print one that’s ready to go!
USCCB offers a guided Rosary for Black Catholic History. Written by the late Dr. Kirk P. Gaddy, a Catholic educator, community leader and father figure to many.
Each set of mysteries has a theme and each decade builds on that theme. There’s a special prayer for each mystery. Praying this rosary is a beautiful way to learn and reflect on Black History.
FAMILY CHALLENGE: Create your own prayer. Include characteristics and virtues of the Black Catholic Saints you’ve learned about or simply ask God to help guide your family’s learning. Say this prayer before dinner each night.
4) Support a Black Catholic Mission
USCCB provides a list of National Black Catholic websites. It’s a great source to find organizations you may have never heard of before.
Explore these organization’s sites to learn more about their missions and how you can get involved. Here is one to get you started:
National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life – The National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life (NBCAL) is a ministry committed to pray, proclaim, and stand boldly for an end to abortion, all acts of violence and evil, and all injustice that destroys the sacredness of life.
FAMILY CHALLENGE: Take a family vote on what mission your family should contribute to. Then find a way to give to their cause; write thank you cards, volunteer, or even do chores to earn donation money.
5) Listen to Gospel Music
Photo Credit: Philadelphia Catholic Gospel Mass Choir
Does your family enjoy listening to music? Try listening to some hymns from Lead Me, Guide Me, the African-American Catholic Hymnal.
Whether you’re in the car driving to school or at home cooking dinner, this is an easy way to expose your family to culturally rich and soulful music that steers the heart to God.
The Archdiocese of Washington has a great video describing the unique and powerful impact that music can have in the Catholic faith.
The exuberant and participatory expression of the Gospel music you can find in African American parishes is a wonderful example. Here are a few songs to get you started.
FAMILY CHALLENGE: If you’re interested in listening live check out the Philadelphia Catholic Gospel Mass Choir —you can even invite them to your home Parish. Here they are performing at the Kimmel Center.
Did you know the month of November is Black Catholic Black History Month?
On July 24, 1990, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States designated November as Black Catholic History Month to celebrate the long history and proud heritage of Black Catholics.