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Newsletter: February 2024

Black History Month at Family Dinner

“Hold on,” my 14-year-old son said. “You’re telling me there were slaves in Texas who didn’t know they were free? For YEARS? And THAT’S what Juneteenth is about?”

We’d been having a conversation about what was going on in my kids’ high school history classrooms, which got us on the subject of what they’d learned about the Civil War and Reconstruction, which…well, you get the idea. I was legitimately surprised that my younger son didn’t know the story of Juneteenth – he’s a history buff who can often teach me a thing or two on the subject. But that was just one aspect of Black history that he hasn’t encountered yet.

Clearly, I thought, there was an opportunity for us as a family to spend a little more time learning together. Since our family dinner conversations often include topics like history, politics, books, music, and science, it seems like including Black history at the table would be a natural fit. But, I’m embarrassed to say, I may be out of my comfort zone in leading those conversations.

Fortunately, there are lots of resources available to help me out – and they’re not just great for families with teens, like mine. At almost any age, there are ways to bring in fun facts and interesting information about the story and contributions of Black people throughout history. So in honor of Black History Month, here’s a short rundown of resources you might like to use at your family dinner table:

  • Use these sets of conversation starters to get things going. Mama Knows it All has a simple, effective script you can use with young children to help explain why Black history is important. You might also follow up by reading some of the storybooks on this list from The Conscious Kid. As kids grow into upper elementary school and expand their knowledge of familiar figures from Black History, they might benefit from these conversation starters from Scholastic that build on books about the Civil Rights movement. And although MLK Day has already passed, you can use our MLK Day conversation starters to keep talking about different civil rights themes – they cover topics like anti-racism, changing the world, learning from difficult historical events, and more.
  • Guide older kids to deeper resources. You could suggest watching great collections like the StoryCorps Black History Month videos, or TED’s curated list of perspectives on Black history and identity. Or if you’ve got tweens and teens who enjoy reading, Facing History has an excellent book list to choose from. In any case, we recommend watching or reading the same resources you share with your kids, and talking about your thoughts together. What did you learn that surprised you? How did certain aspects of the work make you feel? In what ways did the book or video tie into something you’ve seen in your own lives or communities?
  • Explore art, culture, and cinema together. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has lots of information on the 2024 Black History Month theme of “African Americans and the Arts.” Try immersing yourselves in the work of Black creators, especially those you’ve never experienced before. And you can follow up your explorations with our curated Dinner and a Movie experiences themed around anti-racist ideas.
  • Make a family dinner menu based in Black food traditions. We recommend checking out dishes from this list of Recipes from Black Chefs to Celebrate Black History, this menu from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, or discovering more about Black foodways from Chef Michael Twitty’s Afroculinaria. You can also learn more by watching the Netflix series High on the Hog.


seared pork chops with tomato gravy

We love this recipe for Pork Chops with Tomato Gravy from the America’s Sunday Supper movement, dedicated to bringing together people of diverse backgrounds to work together on improving their communities.

Seared Pork Chops with Tomato Gravy


Play a game of Celebrity, with a Black History Month twist! See if you can use only the names of influential people from Black history.



One moment in Black history your family may not know much about is the story of the Friendship 9. Learn about it together, then try these conversation starters to deepen your understanding.