It’s October and that means it’s Black History Month in the UK! I (and many others) believe that Black History should be learnt and celebrated all year round, because black people have made huge waves in history since the beginning of time (…and not just during slavery and Civil Rights movements) but let’s make this month a big one!
In this blog, I will be exploring the origin of Black History Month and sharing with you how I plan to celebrate…
How did Black History Month begin?
Black History Month originally began under the name of Negro History Week in 1926 in the USA. Carter G Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History established this week because they believed “it was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society.”
If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor… and it stands in danger of being exterminated.Carter G Woodson
It was first celebrated as Black History Month (BHM) in the UK in 1987 – organised through the leadership of Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, a Ghanian analyst and is now also observed by Canada and the Netherlands.
Is Black History Month important?
I believe learning about black history and culture gives us, as black people, a sense of pride and understanding which we can then instil in future generations. As we pass on our knowledge of traditions and customs, it will help protect them and keep them alive, so that the African diaspora can continue to grow strong.
For non-black people, I think it is an important time to educate and inspire and should be included into mainstream learning so that we aren’t seen as ‘extra studies’ or ‘other’. It will also help to avoid cultural appropriation and lead to more appreciation of cultures outside of their own.
Learning about Black History and Culture
Growing up in West London and going to a predominantly white school (I was the only black child until year 5), it was important to my parents to involve me in black and multi-cultural activities. I joined an amazing children’s charity and youth group called Descendants from the age of about five and it is still going now!
At Descendants we learnt about African and Caribbean history, did team-building exercises, wrote poems about our cultures, learnt dances and even performed at the Queen’s Jubilee and the Royal Albert Hall with the likes of Gabrielle, Cliff Richard and Boni M. We even made a short film called Forwards Ever, Backwards Never which was part of a Sir Steve McQueen project with Art Angel and Pogus Ceaser!
It was an amazing time of my life that I will never forget and I made life-long friends there (I also illustrated their recent mascots). Please follow them and get involved in their sessions and workshops.
Black History Month 2020
This October, I will be working with The Sunshine Foundation for Children with Special Needs to create their Black History & Culture Quiz! As their designer and marketing co-ordinator (and my mum being the Chair) we have brought back the annual quiz… but this time we are going online!
Join us on Saturday 24th October from the comfort of your own home (via ZOOM) and celebrate this special month whilst raising money for this great charity!
Get together with your bubble (teams of 1 – 3 people) and make sure you have TWO devices between you with strong internet connection to take part.
To book your team/space please email firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be sent the link to the ZOOM event nearer the time.
There is no set ticket price. Please donate as much as you can to take part. All proceeds will go towards supporting children with special educational needs in the UK and Grenada.
Thank you for reading and please make noise this Black History month to get our voices heard. 2020 has been a rough year in so many ways and we need to make changes to the way black people are being treated in society across the world. I aim to empower and inspire the black community through my greeting cards and gifts but also will continuously work behind the scenes within my community to make differences to the black experience in the UK.
We need to work together to make history today and always because WE ARE BLACK HISTORY.