Saturday, 1 October, marked the start of Black History Month (BHM). This is a great opportunity to honour the accomplishments and contributions of black Britons throughout our history, as well as in the present day.
The awareness month aims to promote knowledge of black history, culture and heritage. It also seeks to provide information on positive black contributions to British society. That way we can heighten the confidence and awareness of black people to their own cultural heritage.
The origins of Black History Month
In 1926, Carter G Woodson established African Caribbean celebrations in America. Black History Month is still celebrated each February.
After visiting America in the 1970s, Ghanaian-born Akyaaba Addai Sebo, a special projects officer at the Greater London Council, founded the UK's version of Black History Month in 1987.
The United States celebrates BHM in February. This is due to former US President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Their birthdays fall within this month.
There are two reasons thought to be behind why Black History Month is celebrated in October in the UK:
- October is when African chiefs and leaders gather to settle their differences. So, Akyaaba chose this month to reconnect with African roots
- many thought that, since it was the beginning of the new academic year, October would give Black children a sense of pride and identity
How can you get involved in Black History Month?
Throughout October we will be sharing information about BHM, but if you’d like to get involved and take the opportunity to learn more, here are three simple things you could do to celebrate black history:
- Visit the Black History Month website to learn more, read the latest news and see when key events are being held in the South East.
- Watch this video: A Celebration of Black History Makers to find out more about those who inspire us.
- Have open conversations with friends, family members or work colleagues about black history, use videos or articles as discussion points to help.
Below are links to some useful and informative articles that could be used for discussions:
- Black History Month in Britain: Great women you should know about
- How the UK's African diaspora came to dominate the country's music scene
- Eugene Ogbewele: A career in social work
Last year, alongside Bracknell Forest Council, Karima Moustafa from Berkshire Against Racism held an online cultural festival in August. This showcased the rich culture and traditions in our community. Some of the events included discussions about a variety of cultures, Windrush and a talk on how Afro Caribbean music influences different genres today.
Windrush also played a pivotal role in black history. This year marked the fifth national Windrush Day. It is 74 years since more than 500 Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, to help rebuild Britain after World War II.
The Windrush Generation were met with racism and intolerance. Even many years later, their citizenship was still being wrongly denied. Windrush Day was first introduced in 2018 and is a chance to honour the generation that helped build the society we know today, whilst also understanding the hardships and sacrifices they have endured. You can read more about Windrush on the Royal Museum Greenwich website.
This year’s theme for BHM is Time for Change: Action Not Words. To get to a better tomorrow, we can’t just focus on the past. The past is in the past. We can acknowledge and learn from it, but to improve the future, we need action, not words. That’s why we would love for residents to be involved in this festival of celebration. We welcome you to share your stories, experiences and what you are proud to be.
We want this year to be more engaging than the last. We hope that you use this month to learn about, celebrate and honour black history.
If there is something you want us to celebrate, you can email: email@example.com.