How We Celebrate Black History Month

What is the best way to celebrate #blackhistorymonth? I handle our social media at Eleccion (yes, that’s me!) and I didn’t want to just drop a post with some clip art and a few hashtags. Since we always do our best to live our values—mutual respect, pervasive intentionality, action orientation, and my favorite, rampant curiosity—I thought this would be a great opportunity to put those values to work! So with pervasive intentionality during Black History Month, we explored local black history.

After doing some initial research, I discovered that African Americans have played an instrumental part in the settling of Northern Virginia, the area most of us call home, so I put a call out for an adult field trip to Tinner Hill in Falls Church. For those who have never heard of it, Charles and Mary Tinner , an African-American couple, bought a plot of land in Falls Church in the late 1800’s and built a family, as well as a reputation as excellent stone masons. Some of their descendants still live on that land today. Charles and Mary’s son, Joseph, and others in their community (more about them if you keep reading), established the Colored Citizens Protective League (CCPL) in 1915 to fight for civil rights—the first being legal action against a proposed segregation ordinance. A few years later, the CCPL was named as an official branch of the NAACP—the first rural branch in the country.

I’ve oversimplified the history—there’s so much more to this story but not nearly enough space to put it all down. But what I found on this field trip, and I hope others found, was an understanding how hard the people of the CCPL fought against segregation. But I also found the community they created. The activities of so many people working together to fight segregation in Falls Church is something I wish I could have been there to see.

One of those people in the community, and a co-founder of the CCPL, was Dr. E.B. Henderson who has his own fascinating story around basketball in the DC area and was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his dedication to the sport, having established the Interscholastic Athletic Association. Dr. Henderson’s house still stands in Falls Church, not far from Tinner Hill. And, if you walk from Dr. Henderson’s house to Tinner Hill Historic Park, you’ll see the history of Falls Church told through the women of the community—many of them African American—if you just look down at your feet.

While the trip satisfied my rampant curiosity—if only for a few hours—it also demonstrated the other values we live. As we approach the last of Black History Month, I encourage you to practice mutual respect, demonstrate pervasive intentionality, be action oriented, and definitely sate your rampant curiosity.