Black History Month isn’t just a time to look back at the past but also to think about the future. A strong foundation of understanding is fundamental for moving forward into a better future, which is why this month is such an excellent opportunity to set some time aside and expand our knowledge of Black history and culture.
These learning opportunities are about more than simply filing away fun facts. Building a deeper sense of cultural awareness, appreciation, and understanding helps us develop empathy, which creates trust, inclusion, and other elements critical for a more equitable and humane society. Several scholarly research studies compiled by the American Psychological Association have found that developing empathy through activities like spending time around other cultures or consuming diverse media can increase concern, generosity, and involvement while decreasing aggression, bullying, and punitive behavior.
At Blue Rock Search, our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is at the core of everything we do. This month, join us in our dedication to continually expand our knowledge, and consider some of the below resources to deepen your understanding.
National Museum of African American History & Culture
Image courtesy of the National Museum of African American History & Culture/Eric Long
Part of the Smithsonian Institute, the NMAAHC is the only national museum dedicated exclusively to documenting African American life, history, and culture. Along with in-person, interactive exhibitions and over 40,000 artifacts, the museum provides a wealth of resources for individuals wishing to learn more about Black history and culture, plus in-depth resources for professional educators. These include discussion series, art performances, book discussions, online storytelling series, virtual exhibitions, and special events. Make sure to visit our favorites, Taking the Stage (pictured above) and Cultural Expressions. All programming rests on the museum’s four stated pillars, as follows:
- To provide an opportunity for those interested in African American culture to explore and revel in this history through interactive exhibitions.
- To help all Americans see how global influences shape and inform their stories, histories, and cultures.
- To explore what it means to be an American and share how American values, like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality, are reflected in African American history and culture.
- To serve as a place of collaboration that reaches beyond Washington, D.C., to engage new audiences and work with the myriad of museums and educational institutions that explored and preserved this important history well before this museum was created.
Do you prefer to learn in a more audiovisual format? PBS’s collection celebrating Black history, culture, and achievements is a great hub for hearing stories you might not know and new angles on stories and figures you already recognize. Although some of the collection is curated with K-12 educators in mind, the resources are engaging and fascinating for learners of any age, even outside formal education systems.
PBS’s streamable collection is divided into four main categories: Literature & Media, The Arts, Civics & Society, and STEM. This wide range of topics means you’ll be able to dig deeper into parts of history you may already know something about, like the Civil Rights movement and activism, along with the richness and breadth of Black Americans’ contributions to fields from fine arts to cutting-edge science and everything in between.
Library of Congress
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress/New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection
The Library of Congress offers digital access to archival information and exhibits focused on Black American history, life, and culture. While these documents, by their very nature, tend to have more of a historical focus than a present-day cultural focus, they are a rich resource for anyone looking to better understand Black life and history in America.
Exploring the library’s archives allows for more than just reading basic texts. These collections feature contemporary accounts of Black American life, including historical newspapers, correspondence and papers of notable Black Americans, photographs, audio and video materials, and multimedia exhibitions on everything from the Civil Rights Act to the long struggle for full citizenship to the role of a famed dance theatre. It allows for more than just reading about Black history and culture; it enables audiences to see and hear these stories from firsthand sources and lived experiences.
Individual Black Content Creators
Black history and culture aren’t notions frozen in the past; they’re vibrant and multifaceted aspects of today! Like any community, the Black community is not a monolith, and different individuals will have various perspectives, traditions, and ideas to share.
Fortunately, with social media permeating so much of our culture, it’s easier than ever to get firsthand information from modern Black activists, creators, and everyday people. Whether you prefer TikTok’s trendy viral videos, text-based commentary on X/Twitter or Threads, Instagram’s visual content, or long-form videos on YouTube, there is a seemingly endless supply of thoughtful, personal content out there that can help us all learn more about different perspectives of today’s Black voices. Go beyond the academic and listen to people sharing their real lives—you’ll discover more than you thought possible!
By Ruben Moreno
About the Author
After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.” Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR & Diversity Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.