Celebrating Black History Month- Part 1

February is arguably the best month of the year. Countless iconic celebrations occur in February: Valentine’s Day, Robyn (Rihanna) Fenty’s birthday, Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, and most importantly, Black History Month.  I must preface this article by saying that, if you have never celebrated Black History Month, you should start. It is not exclusive to people of African descent, but rather it is a time for everyone to learn more about all of the amazing people who helped to transform our nation through activism, scholarship, and plain hard work.

 

This year, to kick off my month-long celebration, I took my first ever trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. It was incredible. For starters, the museum itself is massive. There are five floors jam packed with timeless artifacts dating as far back as the 13th century all the way to huge influencers of the present such as Oprah Winfrey.

The main attraction of the museum is the humongous concourse that is over a mile long and takes about three hours to complete in one trip. It takes visitors on a journey from the beginnings of slavery in 1400 through the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century, up to present day with a theatre showcasing the impact of the Obama family. The entire exhibit is brilliantly laid out, and I now understand why the tickets are so hard to come by.

Apart from the concourse, my favorite exhibit by far was the genealogy room where a professional helps visitors use tools such as ancestry.com and FamilySearch to research your family’s history. After a brief introduction to the technology, visitors are then allotted 30 minutes on the computer to search their family genealogy and send the results to their loved ones. During my visit, I was able to discover both my grandmother’s and  great uncle’s original marriage documents and send them to my father. Those documents then led us to find more information about my great grandmother and her origins. Since my visit, my father and I have spent hours on the phone with one another excitedly discussing our roots and the possibility of family members that we have yet to meet.

All in all, I started my Black History Month with a bang and am excited to share the rest of my BHM adventures throughout the month. If you are a Hopkins student, or in the Baltimore area, make sure to keep a look out for all of the Black Heritage Month celebration events we have coming up at JHU Student Affairs.