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February is Black History Month!

Countless organizations, schools not least, offer countless ways to engage with the achievements of African Americans and with the broader tapestry of American culture into which race is so closely woven. We hope you’ll explore your local library’s offerings, or visit a museum near you that will be doing free programming, or participate in a discussion with friends and neighbors about how engaging with African American contributions can stimulate all kinds of Public Kinship outcomes, from thinking about your own place in America to acting with others.


Here are ideas for youth-focused Black History Month activities.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History has designated “Black Resistance” as the theme of Black History Month 2023. The practice of Public Kinship involves engaging with the historical reality of the struggles of peoples for rights, advancement, and the recognition of their belonging in a broader community. This year's Black History Month is an opportunity not simply to learn about what "resistance" has meant for Black America, but how strategies of resistance continue to shape activism and daily life throughout the American social whole. 


If you’re looking for notable figures who exemplify Public Kinship and African American achievement, February has some good birthdays. See the calendar days below! There’s also novelist Toni Morrison; Civil Rights figure Rosa Parks; singer and activist Nina Simone; poet Langston Hughes; baseball’s Hank Aaron; actor Daniel Kaluuya of Nope; and more.



February is Library Lovers’ Month!

Start your Public Kinship February with a good book – and by finding ways to support your local public library system and take advantage of all it has to offer!


What to Do for Yourself

Libraries today are so much more than places to check out books. They have space to study and hold meetings; they offer free digital resources of all kinds; they host public programs; they create community. 

  • Find the nearest branch of your public library and get a library card. If you already have a card, take a friend to that branch and show them how great libraries can be for all ages.

  • Libraries are always curating materials to read, watch, and interact with during special months like Black History Month. If you see something on the Public Kinship Calendar this month – or any month – that you would like to learn more about, chances are your library’s got something for you!


What to Do with Others

There are all kinds of ways these days to support your public library system:

  • Use your library! Take advantage of all it offers, so that your city and county will give our libraries continued support.


  • Become a volunteer – all those services and opportunities need friendly faces and willing hands!


And don’t forget…thank a librarian today! Hey wait – it’s February! Why not make them a Valentine’s Day card to show how much you love to read and to visit their shelves!

Black History Month
Library Lovers' Month

February is the Birth Month of Frederick Douglass!

We know that the great African American orator, autobiographer, and advocate for emancipation and equality was born sometime in February – so we begin Black History Month by celebrating a North Star of Public Kinship.


What to Do for Yourself

Douglass’s autobiography (free online), is one of the most important works of American literature. It testifies to the power of Public Kinship to shape stories of common humanity, self-leadership, and freedom. We suggest beginning with his story of how he learned to read, a process that shows, in his words, “how a slave became a man.”


And there’s also his famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” (includes an audio version read by the incredible Ossie Davis).

What to Do with Others

Birthdays of famous persons, especially those with legacies of writing and art, are great occasions to gather with others to learn and celebrate together. Here are a couple of Douglass-focused ideas:


  • Douglass was one of the most powerful public speakers of his time. Host a small party where folks collectively read some of his speeches out loud. Make young people part of the speaking! Public Kinship is multigenerational!


  • If you are already involved in any Black History Month events, encourage the organizers to make a Douglass-themed event part of the programming. See our Black History Month ideas above for more!

Birth of Frederick Douglass

Feb. 10 – Birthday of Leontyne Price

The immortal soprano celebrates her 95th birthday today! Leontyne Price is one of the greatest dramatic singers of our era, rising from humble beginnings in Mississippi to conquer every major opera house in the world, win 19 Grammys for records on which she appears, and be honored by Presidents and the nation to this day. Her career shows what Public Kinship can sound like in every register – opera, spirituals, popular and patriotic music. How does she speak to you?


What to Do for Yourself

All you need is her voice. She can do it all. Here are some suggestions:



What to Do with Others

Make a playlist of some of your favorite ground-breaking musicians, add Leontyne Price in there, and share with friends and family. Talking with others about artists (in any field) who you find inspirational and ground-breaking is a great way to build Public Kinship into the fabric of common culture.

Birth of Leontyne Price

Feb. 11 – Birthday of John McKnight

John McKnight is generally acknowledged as the founder of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), a concept that places local knowledge, community expertise, and asset-directed self-understanding at the center of social practice within and beyond underserved or marginalized groups. NAC’s work is deeply informed by McKnight’s work and that of his colleagues at the ABCD Institute at DePaul University in Chicago.


Public Kinship begins with asking yourself: “What am I good at?” “What do I know how to do?” “What are my own values, aspirations, and ways of acting in the world?” In other words, it begins by doing an asset-based examination of yourself, and then moving outward. The Public Kinship Reflection Journal has exercises to get you started on this. But we hope you’ll take some time to check in with yourself on these questions any way that you can…

…and you go from there. The ABCD Institute and its many toolkits and publications are powerful resources for learning more about how asset-based thinking can build Public Kinship within and around you.

Feb. 12 – Birthday of Abraham Lincoln

We now bundle the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington into the holiday called Presidents’ Day, which normally falls on the third Monday of February. Activities like visiting memorials or museums are great for a long holiday weekend, but we’re also offering some ideas for honoring these two monumental figures on their own!

What to Do for Yourself

As President, Lincoln wrote some of the most important and most moving speeches in American history. And speeches were made to be spoken:




What do you think of these words? Are they inspiring to you? Do you feel that they still have value today, for yourself, for your community, or for America?

What to Do with Others

Lincoln is often regarded as the greatest American President, for his leadership during the Civil War, for the Emancipation Proclamation and the fight for the 13th Amendment, and perhaps most of all for his epic sense of humanity, forgiveness, and “charity for all.” In these divisive times, there are many simple ways to honor Lincoln’s legacy.


  • Have a conversation with a friend or neighbor on this day about what it means to act with charity and forgiveness toward all. Are there aspects of your community’s collective life that would benefit from a greater sense of this?

  • If you want to get the kids interested in American history, there’s the old “Lincoln Look-a-Like” contest, a staple of county fairs all over the country! Get some inspiration from the Association of Lincoln Presenters!

  • Find and volunteer with a service organization near you that is doing a project close to the spirit of Lincoln, such as a racial healing event or youth public speaking contest.

Birth of John McKnight
Birth of Abraham Lincoln

Feb. 14 – International Book-Giving Day

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to practice Public Kinship book-style! This day of sharing and learning isn’t just about what goes on in schools and libraries, and it’s not just about kids either (though you can find opportunities in that direction, like donating a book to your public library to celebrate Library Lovers’ Month!).


Here are some other things you could do:

  • Work with neighbors to build and stock a Little Free Library in your neighborhood. They’re all the rage these days!

  • Form a committee to establish and maintain a reading library in your community center or other public space.

  • Volunteer at a book drive.

  • Follow #bookgivingday for posters, bookmarks, and other ways to show you love reading…and readers!

Book-Giving Day

Feb. 17 – Random Acts of Kindness Day

The name of this well-known day of connection says it all! (Actually, it’s this whole week: Feb. 14-18.) Small and random acts of kindness are the building blocks of Public Kinship: within yourself, they help you construct a foundation for how you want to act in the world; in public, acts of kindness build bridges with those you already know and love, and also those with whom you may feel you have little in common.

Visit the RAK Foundation for the complete low-down on how to get involved…and to enter the RAK Coloring Contest, which is open now!! Get those posters in by Thursday 2/17 at 5 pm EST for stickers and other prizes!

Random Acts of Kindness Day

Feb. 21 – Birthday of John Lewis

The great Georgia Congressman stood on the front lines of the Civil Rights and social justice movements for over half a century. His famous advice? “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Lewis’s journey can give us inspiration for how to build up our own moral mind, our inner resolve, and our outward commitments to acting in good ways in the world. So…


What To Do for Yourself

Read Lewis’s New York Times op-ed, “Together, We Can Save the Soul of Our Nation.”


The graphic novel March, written by Lewis in collaboration with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, is a masterpiece for all ages. It can be a great resource for getting young people interested in Civil Rights and in the power of Public Kinship through art and activism! Your library may have it, and if it doesn’t, recommend purchasing it!


What to Do with Others

Practicing Public Kinship can be easier if you use the work of others as a “teaching tool” for tackling serious issues.


If you see room for improvement in your community, perhaps you can work with neighbors to host an event for discussing the legacy of John Lewis in terms of your own values and concerns. Are there aspects of Lewis’s life that exemplify your own values and those of those around you? Aspects of his work that you feel are worth challenging, or doing in a different way? How can this leader help your own local leadership strategies?

Birth of John Lewis

Feb. 22 – Birthday of George Washington

You can get inspiration for celebrating the first American President and the beginnings of the nation by visiting the website for his Mount Vernon estate in Northern Virginia.

Birth of George Washington

Feb. 23 – Birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was one of the most wide-ranging and influential public intellectuals of the American 20th century. Over almost a century, as a novelist, sociologist, historian, activist, critic, president of the NAACP and editor of its Crisis journal, he ceaselessly – often controversially – analyzed race, American culture, international affairs, and the possibility of solving what to him was “the problem of the 20th century: the problem of the color line.”


His birthday is a chance to reflect on the power of writing, thinking, and common culture to shape new narratives of self and community. These are the kind of narratives we need now to solve the problems of the 21st century.

What Do for Yourself

Here are a few of Du Bois’s most famous writings, including ones you can find for free online. Revel in his sharp prose, and share with others – and with us – your reactions to his ideas. What do you think?




What Do with Others

There is a well-regarded documentary on Du Bois called “A Biography in Four Voices,” which you can rent from Vimeo (currently $2.50). Maybe host a watch party for friends and neighbors and have a conversation about Du Bois’s relevance, and who you see as carrying on his legacy today?


If you want a free activity, you could host a “talk-party” along the same lines. Or you could simply share some of his wisdom with others in a letter or email. Sharing your influences and inspirations with others is the first step in putting the “public” in Public Kinship…and nobody would agree with that more than Du Bois himself!

Birth of W.E.B. Du Bois
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