From reading books and watching documentaries to touring museums and visiting landmarks, there are many ways to celebrate Black History Month and learn more about key individuals in our country’s history and the lasting impact of their accomplishments.
This year, Holiday Inn Club Vacations team members shared how they celebrate this important month. If you’re looking for some inspiration and creative things to do, or even useful tips and educational resources, check out their recommendations below.
Authors and Literature Works to Check Out
Stories and words can be very powerful, which is why reading poems, essays and books written from African American and Black authors are a great way to honor Black History Month.
- “One of my favorite Black authors is Maya Angelou, and my favorite poem of hers is Still I Rise. Alice Walker is another fantastic author, and of course you cannot say her name without thinking of the novel The Color Purple. And last year, I read Becoming, the memoir by Michelle Obama, and loved it! She is so down to earth, and in the book, you really get to know her as person, instead of the first African-American First Lady.” – Maurleen Fleuranvil, Marketing
- “To celebrate Black History Month this year, I’ve chosen to focus on beloved heroes of the arts who have roots or connections to Southern Louisiana. I will be reading literature from Freddi Williams Evans, Pinkie Gordon Lane, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Arna Wendell Bontemps, and my favorite Ernest J. Gaines.” – Tabitha Moran, New Orleans Resort
- “I recommend reading the article ‘12 Ways You Can Be an Activist Without Going to a Protest’ by Felicia Fitzpatrick. It was initially published on the app, Shine.” – Jonathan Lippitt, Sales
Documentaries, Movies and Videos to Watch
History and culture are often best expressed and understood through art. Whether you prefer short videos, documentaries and movies or even live theater, one of the recommended features below is sure to fit your interest.
- “I celebrate my Black history every month of the year. However, I do appreciate that a spotlight is necessary for other races and cultures to understand the contributions of Black people in America. For education during this month, I recommend watching 13th, an impactful documentary that analyzes the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison system. Additionally, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, is an outstanding documentary chronicling the life of Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight champion boxer of the world. Determined to live his life on his own terms as a free Black man, the documentary details Johnson’s early struggles and continued fight against racism inside and outside the ring.” – Shawn Burnett, Legal
- “My favorite hobby is live theater and my all-time favorite musical is Hamilton. I think it’s awesome that it’s now widely accessible and available from home through Disney+ and would highly recommended watching it if you haven’t yet! I love it for so many reasons, including getting to see wonderful Black talent like (but not limited to) Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. Since debuting the role, he’s been dubbed the ‘fastest rapper on Broadway,’ clocking in at 6.3 words per second during his quickest verse in Act One’s Guns and Ships. I am blown away every time, no pun intended. Hamilton has hopefully helped open the door to more inclusive casting not only on Broadway, but in the movie and TV worlds too.” – Jennifer Harmon, Brand Marketing
- “The movie Hidden Figures is great because it enlightened the public of the incredible Black women who were the ‘hidden’ foundation for many accomplishments of NASA in the 20th Century space race.” – Jennipher Terry, Customer Commitments
- “I recently watched a movie called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which was produced by and starred Oprah Winfrey. The movie was inspired by true events and I certainly learned something new!” – Haydee Castillo, Customer Commitments
- “I love learning new things about Black History in any way I can. A couple of my favorite things to watch include the documentary I am Not your Negro and the mini-series Roots.” – Steve Premier, Marketing
- “This year, I plan to introduce my son to movies that provide a vantage point of African contribution worldwide, not just here in the U.S. A common mistake is to believe Black history starts with slavery, but it goes far beyond that.” – Christopher Holland, Marketing
- “In just four minutes, We Built This explains how slaves built America. You can view the video here.” – Jonathan Lippitt, Sales
Places to Visit, Both In-Person and Virtually
Monuments and historical sites offer an interactive way to learn more about Black history. Plus, many of these sites have adapted to provide a virtual or socially distant experience for this year.
- “If you plan to visit the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Apple Mountain Resort, stop by Atlanta on your way and take a food tour from Atlanta Food Walks. My wife and I went on this tour and it was rich in Black history, along with some great food. The tour even starts at Paschal’s, which is the restaurant that served as the ‘unofficial’ headquarters of the Civil Rights Movement because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his associates frequently went to there to have dinner and hold meetings.” – James Coon, Scottsdale Resort
- “If you live near Polk County or find yourself visiting the area, make sure you check out the installation of interactive Black History banners in downtown Winter Haven. Visitors can use this link to access a GPS tour and learn more about each person featured.” – Jessica Mercado, Customer Commitments
- “This year, I’ll be visiting the Backstreet Cultural Museum, Studio Be, and the New Orleans African American Museum for some amazing displays of art and historical features.” – Tabitha Moran, New Orleans Resort
- “Since I can’t go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. this year, I plan to attend virtually.” – Maurleen Fleuranvil, Marketing
People and Moments in History to Learn More About
Thanks to the digital world we live in, learning about an historic person or event has never been easier. While some of the names shared by our team members below may be new to you, there is a lot of fascinating history behind them.
- “I have many heroes, but one that stands out for me is Mahalia Jackson because of her true commitment to her faith and to gospel music. Mahalia’s name is associated with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. She was one of the first women to have her own Christian television shows, and she even provided college scholarships to underprivileged students. If you would like to learn more about her, I recommend reading Just Mahalia, Baby by Laurraine Goreau or Mahalia Jackson (Women of Achievement) by Charles K. Wolfe, watching the documentary Mahalia Jackson – Give God the Glory or listening to the album, Mahalia Jackson Vol.2.” – Clarence Mark, Finance
- “During February, I use the erasable board above my desk to share ‘Did you know?’ fun facts about little-known Black accomplishments. For example, Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to publish a book of poetry, and Wilma Rudolph won the 100-meter dash at the Summer Olympics and set a new world record! It’s so awesome to see so many Black Americans who have accomplished so much during such difficult times, building a foundation for all of us.” – Annette Paulino, Sales
- “I believe that a good way to commemorate Black History Month is to highlight significant Black figures in areas that may not be as broadly discussed. There are many great accomplishments in Black American history that may not be as well-known as the Civil Rights Movement but are just as important. The history of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a great example of this.” – Jennipher Terry, Customer Commitments
- “I recommend taking a look at one of my favorite Facebook pages called Historical Snapshots. The page does not strictly focus on Black Americans, but it does share wonderful stories of historic men and women, including many people of color. The more we know the better we are!” – Jessica Mercado, Customer Commitments
- “I believe we should use the month to educate each other on facts of Black history. We can start by asking why we have a Black History Month and when did it start? Each day we can celebrate Black history by learning about those that were the first do something, invent or discover; and how it changed the world we live in. History.com does a great job of sharing that information.” – Timothy Crowell, Club
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, we hope everyone has a happy, healthy, safe and reflective Black History Month!