For the entire month of February, my family and I will celebrate our heritage and those who’ve made significant contributions to our society. As a family, we are proud in our skin, are determined to immerse ourselves in the education of African-American history, and are committed to sharing stories that uplift our culture at a time when the attempt to silence our voices and erase our place in history is ever so apparent. Below, I’d like to share a few ways we’ll be teaching our young son about his heritage and celebrating our customs and traditions.
Art and Exploration
Ronald E. McNair – Second African-American Astronaut
Last night, my son led part of our conversation by sharing his class discussion on the fantastic contributions of Physicist Ronald Erwin McNair, the second Black astronaut in America. McNair was also one of seven crew members killed in the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion on January 28, 1986. As shared by the University of Washington in a brief biography about his life, McNair excelled academically and became well-known as an expert in laser physics. The U.S. Department of Education helped to establish the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage minority and low-income youth to enroll in graduate studies and acquire doctorate degrees. Follow About Ronald E. McNair for more information, and click the video below for a special tribute in his honor.
1997 Video Tribute to Ronald E. McNair, South Carolina State Hall of Fame Inductee
Colin Kaepernick – Civil Rights Activist and Football Quarterback
We enjoyed this fun art activity from the African American Leaders Coloring Book! As a family, we discussed the importance of standing for what you believe in and the activism and resilience of Civil Rights Activist and Football Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who famously took a knee to protest against racial injustice and police brutality. Kaepernick is still contributing to the fight against racial profiling and has a new Hulu documentary addressing these issues.
The 1619 Project Hulu Docuseries by Pulitzer-prize-winning Journalist Nicole Hannah-Jones is good for the whole family to see (it may not be appropriate for young children). It was adapted from her literary work of the same title and shed light on the consequences of slavery and the contributions of African Americans in laying the foundation of America.
Family Reading Time
My son loves reading before bed. Some nights we will read about African American leaders from his book 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World by Charles R. Smith, Jr. I love this book because it provides a new highlight for each day of February!
Food & Family
My grandfather would always say that there was nothing like family and felt at home whenever his children and grandchildren surrounded him. I echo that sentiment and pray many blessings for you and your family. In honor of him, I have added a gumbo recipe from Chef Remy in ‘Dat Little New Orleans Creole Cookbook that we’ve used and loved over the holidays. My grandfather and my grandmother made the best gumbo. This recipe differs from theirs but will make you feel at home in your parent’s kitchen.
OKRA SEAFOOD GUMBO
6 Small Hardshell Gumbo Crabs
2 Qts of Water
1 Pkg Dry Crab Boil
1/4 C Bacon Fat
3 Pounds Okra, Chopped, and Destemmed
1 C All-Purpose Flour
3 C Onion, Chopped Medium
1 C Green Onion, Chopped
2 Tbsp Garlic, Minced
1 C Bell Peppers
1/2 C Whole Tomatoes, Peeled, and Diced
2 1/2 – 3 Qts Crab or Seafood Stock
3 1/2 Pounds Shrimp, Peeled
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1 Tbsp Louisiana Pepper Sauce
1 Tsp Bay Leaf
2 C Cooked Ham, Cubed, Optional
First, boil crabs in 2 quarts of water, and simmer for 20 minutes. Only add crabs once the water is boiling. Live crabs are best. Reserve water.
Second, in a skillet, heat bacon fat. Fry chopped okra on medium-high heat, stirring until it is brown and all the slime is gone. Reserve.
Third, make your roux. Heat oil in a large black iron or stainless steel pot and add flour. Stir until the flour gets dark brown (about 20 minutes). Add onions and green onions and stir for 5 minutes. Add garlic, green pepper, and tomatoes; stir for 2 minutes. Add stock (crab liquid from boiling) and enough water to make a thin consistency. Don’t worry; it will be rich enough. Stir until all roux is mixed in. Be sure to add slowly and mix well as you add liquid. Cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp, crab, okra, salt, pepper, pepper sauce, thyme, and bay leaf, and cook for ten more minutes. Add ham and cook for ten more minutes. Serve over rice.
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