In a time full of chaos and change, there are few constants that remain. However, as our history changes there are parts that we cannot leave behind or forget. With February being Black History Month, it is an important time for us to reflect on the changes that have been made to promote racial justice and equality and explore the ways we can still continue to grow as a community. The only way to celebrate change and growth is by talking about it. Black History Month is not something that should only be taught to children in schools, but it can be an educational experience for the whole family. The difference-makers throughout history have not come from one age bracket, but from a wide variety of ages. We often think of Ruby Bridges who was just 6 years old at the time she became the only black child to attend an all-white school or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but there are so many more individuals that have made substantial impacts throughout the pursuit of equality. Rosa Parks once said, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
While several in-person events have been cancelled for this year, after speaking with Elaine Holden at the NC Transportation Museum, there are several opportunities still available to help you with your educational journey this month. The NC Transportation Museum is presenting two free events jointly with Livingstone College.
Monday, February 22nd at 6:30 pm is the streaming of The Smithsonian Channel’s 60-minute Documentary, “The Green Book: Guide to Freedom.” Tuesday, February 23rd at 6:30 pm is a live-stream webinar entitled, “The Green Book: NC Travels Down Memory Lane.” Tune in for an evening of conversation among community leaders who will depict travel during the turbulent times of the Jim Crow era of legalized segregation in the United States. These will draw from personal experiences to share reflections and recollections of using Victor Green’s published travel guide, The Negro Motorist Green Book for personal, educational, and business travel. Registration can be done on the website at nctrans.org/greenbook.
If your family is looking to spend a day exploring, a visit to the museum would be a wonderful idea. The Transportation Museum is also featuring an exhibit dedicated to black history month. According to Mrs. Holden, “The Green Book Project of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission along with the “Navigating Jim Crow: The Green Book and Oasis Spaces in North Carolina” banner exhibit is currently on display in our Flue Shop through March 14.“ This exhibit (as well as a very unique, “Eccentric Cycles” exhibit) are included in the general admission. For families up for more adventure there is an I-SPY activity and a special Black History Month Scavenger hunt available to download from the website to enhance a family’s visit to the museum. Due to Covid restrictions and protocol Mrs. Holden provided the following information, “Online tickets are available and highly recommended for museum admission and train rides. We are committed to creating a safe and fun experience for everyone who visits the museum. Face coverings are required while on the train, throughout the buildings, and when 6-ft. social distancing is not able to be experienced. Public buildings are limited to no more than 50% of the stated fire code capacity, with space available for social distancing throughout. Picnic shelters are open, arranged with fewer tables and greater distances in between.”
If your family is looking for a way to interact with younger children and reflect on Black History Month within the safety of your own home there are several options. From checking out books found in one of the many branches of the Rowan County Public Library to watching and discussing videos found online there are limitless opportunities for education and celebration of Black History Month. In October of 2020 PBS hosted a special entitled “PBS KIDS Talk About Race & Racism.” This special provides clips and conversation starters that can be used with even young children. Although these are just a few suggestions for resources to aid in the discussions with your family, the only way we will continue to grow as a society is by talking. While there is much to be celebrated, there is always room for growth. Although he said it many years ago, these words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. still hold the same truth today, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do keep moving forward.”