Here are twenty-eight activities you can participate in that will help you on your journey to becoming an advocate and ally to BIPOC folks:
Commit to the Challenge - Select at least 5 items you plan to commit to during Black History Month.
- Learn about: Viola Desmond – African-Canadian business woman, civil rights activist.
- Learn about: Marie-Joseph Angélique – Enslaved Black woman owned by Thérèse de Couagne de Francheville in Montréal. (Additional source)
- Learn about: Historically significant individuals Thornton and Lucie Blackburn - They escaped slavery in Kentucky to move to Detroit where they lived until being arrested in 1833. Both Lucie and Thornton escaped prison during the first racial uprisings against slavery in Detroit and fled to safety in Essex County, Upper Canada.
- Learn about: Key figure and resulting legislation - Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada.
- Learn about: Henry and Mary Bibb - partners in marriage who worked together at the height of the abolitionist movement, moving to Canada after the passage of the American Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 and setting up a crucial endpoint of the Underground Railroad near Windsor.
- Learn about: Historical figure in Canadian politics - Rosemary Brown - the first Black woman elected to a Canadian provincial legislature in 1972 and later worked as the Chief Commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
- Learn about: Historical figure in Canadian politics - Lincoln Alexander - the first Black Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, the first Black federal Cabinet Minister, and the first Black Chair of the Worker’s Compensation Board.
- Learn about: Entrepreneur Mary Ann Shadd - She was the first black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada.
- Learn about: A historic black landmark in your city.
- Reflect: The Most Inspirational Story I’ve Seen this Month Is…Today is a journal prompt, to offer reflection on the stories you have heard this month. Take a few minutes to journal and think about what story has impacted you the most, and why.
- Action: Support a black owned business.
- Action: Purchase and read a book by a black author.
- Watch: Laverne Cox Presents “The T Word” - Hosted by Laverne Cox (star of the Netflix show ‘Orange is the New Black’) this one-hour documentary will take viewers inside the lives of seven trans youths who, until recently, may not have even felt safe sharing their lives with others.
- Watch: I Am Not Your Negro - This movie is James Baldwin’s personal account of the civil rights movement, and his stories reminds us that there is still much work to be done.
- Watch: Paris is Burning - This documentary film is directed by Jennie Livingston. Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, it chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it.
- Watch: The Skin We’re In - 2017 CBC documentary that follows a celebrated Canadian journalist, activist and author Desmond Cole’s journey from journalist to activist, as he travels across Canada in Ontario, Alberta, and Nova Scotia, in pursuit of stories, examples, and knowledge about black identities and experiences.
- Watch: They’ve Gotta Have Us – A mini series about the rise of black actors as they have gone from being the backdrop to calling the shots. This is the inside story of the turning points of black life on both sides of the lens, from Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, to the present day (available on Netflix).
- Watch: Citizen King - documentary from acclaimed filmmakers Orlando Bagwell and Noland Walker, which explores the last five years in the life of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
- Watch: Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives - HBO documentary dating back to the 1930s. Consists of interviews of former slaves emancipated at the end of the Civil War.
- Watch: Captive Heart: The James Mink Story - A well-to-do interracial couple in 1850’s Canada head to the States to rescue their daughter, sold into slavery by her new husband.
- Reflect: Why do you think we celebrate Black History Month? Today is a journal prompt, to offer reflection on your journey so far. Take a few minutes to journal and think about what you have learned so far. And then, keep going!
- Read: Colorism in Hollywood - Colorism exists within the Black Community. Today, read Viola Davis’ explanation of how it exists in Hollywood.
- Read: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin - James Baldwin was an author and activist, and much of his work is referenced to this day. Order or begin reading “The Fire Next Time.”
- Discuss: The Importance of Black History on Canadian History - Black History Month should be shared and celebrated by all. Host a conversation about what you’ve learned or what you hope to learn this month with a friend or family member.
- Discuss: The Importance of Black History Month with Your Community - Black History Month should be shared and celebrated by all. Host a conversation about what you’ve learned or what you hope to learn this month with your community.
- Donate: The Bail Project - The Bail Project™ National Revolving Bail Fund is a critical tool to prevent incarceration and combat racial and economic disparities in the bail system.
- Donate: National Black Disability Coalition - Founded in 1990, in response to the need for Black people with disabilities to organize around mutual concerns, NBDC is dedicated to examining and improving; community leadership, family inclusion, entrepreneurship, civil rights, service delivery systems, education and information and Black disabled identity and culture through the lenses of ableism and racism.
- Donate: Canadian Race Relations Foundation - Canada’s largest charity organizations focused on improving cross-cultural understanding across all cultures in Canada to support in eliminating racism. They offer a wide variety of programs for marginalized Canadians.
Commit to Life-long Allyship. Remember, learning about Black History shouldn’t be limited to one month – share what you’ve learned within your community! Commit to lifelong learning and allyship, and continuing to read books by Black authors, support Black organizations, shop Black, and follow Black women.