Black History Month & Black Lives Matter

This year, in particular, Black Lives Matter has been at the forefront of much of the news and October was Black History Month as you will undoubtedly be aware; however, did you ever wonder how they started and why we celebrate them? Why Do We Celebrate Black History Month? Black History Month is a nationwide observance that commemorates the history and achievements of the black community. Over many generations, members of the black community made enormous contributions to the UK; yet their efforts went unrecognised by the majority of the population due to racial discrimination. The first Black History Month aimed to challenge racism by educating local communities about black British history that was not taught in schools. Today, Black History Month aims to abolish systemic racism and encourage acceptance of black and white equality. What is ‘Black Lives Matter’? Even to this day, racial injustice and discrimination are prevalent within society; however, we have new hope. The Black Lives Matter movement (officially renamed the Black Liberation Movement UK) has just gained legal status! This means that the organisers can take direct political action to alleviate injustices suffered by black African and black Caribbean communities across the UK. They can also provide educational resources about the structural disadvantages experienced by black African and black Caribbean communities and can provide training on ways to overcome these disadvantages. How Did Black History Month Start? In America, Carter Godwin Woodson was an advocate for Black History awareness and education. He believed that” if a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” Based on the above principle, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, to encourage scholars to engage in the long-ignored study of African American history. He published books on black life and culture and helped popularise the field in schools and colleges. In February 1926, Woodson founded ‘Negro History Week’: the pinacol for Black History Months around the world. He is recognised as the ‘Father of Black History’. In the UK, the first Black History Month was celebrated in 1987. It was organised through the leadership of Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. He initiated the proceedings because of the identity crisis that Black children faced in the UK. Children were characterised by their language, physical features, faith and culture: traits that determined their acceptance in society. Black children were treated with disdain because Britishness, as an identity, was linked to the concept of whiteness. Akyaaba Addai-Sebo was involved in campaigns against institutional racism in the UK. He educated people on the contributions of Africa, Africans and people of African descent; to dissolve the negative connotations surrounding African values and lifestyles within the UK. How Is It Commemorated? Black History Month in the UK is typically commemorated with various talks, exhibitions and concerts. This year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Black History Month events were held under social distance guidelines, were pre-recorded, or were live-streamed for your safety. Examples of past and ongoing events include:


· Artistic dance displays · Short films · Afro Caribbean barbering classes · Art, craft and design fairs · Cooking classes · Untold stories from African descent · Literacy · Debates and discussions · Support groups · Family history · Photography · Comedy


For more information about Black History Month visit: www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk

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