5 Ways Action Teams Can Celebrate Black History Month

ACE will be celebrating Black History Month with a series of five blogs throughout out the month of February. We will look at Black History Month through the lens of the Climate Movement.

This is part 1 of 5 and it comes from our Senior Educators Lonna and Amber. 

It’s Black History Month and what better way to celebrate the contributions of African Americans than to organize environmental projects centered around this historical month. ACE wants you to use your teamwork skills, creativity, and artistic talents to rock projects that celebrate the contributions of African Americans.

We have put together a list of the Top 5 Ways you and your Action Team can Celebrate Black History Month.

5. Environmental Mash Up - Use your video, music and poetic talents to string together an environmental mash up of speeches, songs and interviews from Black environmentalists or artists. For example, take an excerpt of Van Jones’ speech at Powershift and combine it with an excerpt of Michael Jackson’s, “They Don’t Really Care About Us.”

4. DOT Invention Challenge - The stop light. The Laserphaco Probe for the treatment of cataracts. The first successful open heart surgery. All invented by African Americans. Challenge your Action Team to research African American inventors and institute a weekly Do One Thing (DOT) commitment to honor the legacy of their invention. This will push your creativity to make connections between seemingly unrelated inventions and the environment. Check this out:

      Example: Garrett A. Morgan invented the stop light. After witnessing a carriage collision, he developed a device that would alert drivers to stop at an intersection. He patented his invention and later sold it to General Electric for $40,000. What’s the connection? The stop light completely transformed how we safely commute. Nowadays, with CO2  reaching dangerously high levels, safely commuting takes on a new meaning. Celebrate Garrett A. Morgan by changing the way you commute. Throughout the month of February, encourage your school to switch it up. Ride a bike, carpool, walk. Source: http://www.biography.com/people/garrett-morgan-9414691?page=1

      Example 2:  Madame C.J. Walker was the first Black woman to earn a milly, a million dollars, that is. Her creation and manufacturing of Black hair care products led her to become the first-female self made millionaire. Celebrate Madame C.J. Walker’s creativity and ambition by swapping out of one your staple beauty/grooming products for an organic alternative or push yourself to make your own. Many cosmetic products contain potentially harmful chemicals and dyes that not only negatively impact your body, but can end up in our food and water supplies when you throw them out. Check out these ideas for creating your own safe and au naturel products. Source: http://www.biography.com/people/madam-cj-walker-9522174

3. Tell the Story of An African American Leader (1 min)

      Flash Mob - Hit your classmates with an unexpected dose of Black History knowledge! Organize a flash mob during lunch or between classes to educate your peers about contributions African Americans have made to the environmental movement. Ok, now Beyonce has set the bar really high, but imagine it. Bell rings, students flood the hallways headed to their next class and over the loud speaker the beat drops to Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson”, “Do you know Ms. Jackson? Oooooh. I am for real! First - Black - woman - to - lead - the - EPA. Green - house gas emissions she regulates.” Thought that was wack? Of course it was, but you can do better! Check out this list of Black environmentalists to get you started.

      Just in time for the Oscars - The world is your stage. Use the creative talents of the members of your action team to create 1 minute monologues from the perspective of a Black environmentalist. Research the person you want to represent and tell their story. Present your monologues during your action team meeting and make an open invitation for your classmates to attend your special action team meeting. Make it more fun by making it Oscars themed. Use red chart paper as a red carpet, create swag bags with facts about Black actors and other goodies, and create a ballot sheet for your audience to vote on the monologues (Best actor, best costume, you get it.)

      School News Feature - Submit a weekly feature on a Black environmentalist to your school newspaper or broadcast.

2. Black History Hall Facts – Put your interior design skills to the test and create decorative hallway posters to share interesting facts about African American pioneers, events and inventions. Keep this project “environmentally friendly” by using recycled poster board or simply using the backside of an old project display board.

      Make It Cooler: Share facts about African American Environmentalists. For Example: Did you know Lisa Jackson was the first African American to serve as the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

1. Create Recycled Inventions- What better way to reduce your carbon footprint and use your artistic abilities, than to create inventions made by African Americans. These aren’t your ordinary art creations. Every invention is made of recycled or reused materials. Old tissue rolls, paint, a cardboard box and a splash of creativity could make a sweet traffic light (Invented by Garret Morgan). Or your team may want to make a GRAND ENTRY by recreating a recycled door knob (Invented by Osborn Dorsey). Whatever the cause or invention you’ll be sure to reduce your CO2 emissions and enlighten your peers on inventions made by African Americans.

      Make It Cooler: Have an evening of art exploration and put your recycled inventions on display. Pair it with a sporting event, PTSA Meeting or Club night to increase participation and attendance.