Black History Month 2023

Faces of black people representing Black History Month

Sunday 1 October marks 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Watch this video: A Celebration of Black History Makers to find out more about those who inspire us.
  3. 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:

Saluting our sisters

This year’s theme for BHM is “Saluting our Sisters”.

The theme emphasises the vital role black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.

We have seen a number of achievements by black women. This has been seen in the sporting field, where athletes such as Nicola Adams have won multiple Olympic gold medals. Across the pond, Condoleezza Rice became the first female African-American secretary of state. Kamala Harris is currently the highest ever ranking female politician in the Unites States.

However, there is still a long way to go. The achievements of black women have often been marginalised. The month is not only a chance to shine a light, but to recognise that more needs to be done.

Notable women throughout history

This BHM, we wanted to highlight some of the black women throughout history.

Ellen Craft

Ellen was born in Clinton, Georgia, USA, and was the daughter of an African American enslaved woman and her white owner. Due to her light complexion, Ellen disguised herself as a white man to escape the plantation with her lover, William Craft.

Ellen and William eventually escaped America and travelled to England. They would lecture on the established Anti-Slavery and Abolition circuit. Although they eventually returned to America, one of their sons settled in nearby Surrey.

Ellen is considered a fascinating figure in this period of American history.

Black nurses in the NHS

After the second world war, there were staff shortages in the health sector. Health care staff from across the world were called to make up for that shortage. A huge portion of those came from Nigeria, the now Tanzania and the Caribbean.

Overcoming prejudice, these women became an integral part of British life.

Tessa Sanderson

Tessa Sanderson was born in 1956 in Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica, but grew up in Wolverhampton. She was the first black British woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

When Sanderson was at secondary school, a teacher noticed her talent and threatened to put her in detention if she didn't train for athletics. She made her senior international debut at the Commonwealth Games, aged 18. She would eventually win three Commonwealth gold medals. Her Olympic gold came in 1984.

These are just some of the sisters who will be saluted this BHM.

If there is something you want us to celebrate, or a sister you would like to salute, you can email