October is Black History Month (BHM), 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, provide information on positive black contributions to British society and heighten the confidence and awareness of black people to their cultural heritage.
The origins of Black History Month
In 1926, Carter G Woodson established African Caribbean celebrations in America where 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 US celebrates in February because the birthdays of former US President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass 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 traditionally 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
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
- The legacy of black cuisine: Cookbooks by black chefs
- How the UK's African diaspora came to dominate the country's music scene
- Eugene Ogbewele: A career in social work
This year’s theme for BHM is Proud To Be, a campaign which invites black and brown people of all ages around the UK to share what they are proud to be, this could be Proud To Be black, Proud To Be brown, Proud To Be black and LGBTQ+, Proud To Be me. We would love for residents to be involved in this festival of celebration, and we welcome you to share your stories, experiences and what you are proud to be.
Alongside the council, Karima Moustafa from Berkshire Against Racism held an online cultural festival in August which 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. Karima said:
“Bracknell Forest is full of diverse culture and people. The cultural event was just a snapshot into the different ways of life around us and we should continue to educate ourselves about other people’s experiences and stories.”
Windrush also played a pivotal role in black history. This year marked the fourth national Windrush Day and 73 years since more than 500 Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean, upon the request of the British Government, arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, to help rebuild Britain after World War II.
The Windrush Generation were met with racism and intolerance, and even 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.
We hope that you use this month to learn about, celebrate and honour black history.