Black History Month is celebrated in the UK every October. It is the annual commemoration of the history, achievements and contributions of black people in the UK.
Let us be conscious to always keep Black history at the forefront of our minds. Black history is more than a month, it is a mindset and map for everything the black community hopes to achieveShanoy Coombs, Development Communications Specialist
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is the annual commemoration of the history, achievements and contributions of black people in the UK. This national celebration aims to promote and celebrate black contributions to British society, and to foster an understanding of black history in general. Today across the UK during October over 4000 events are organised celebrating Black History Month along with activities within schools.
Why did Black History Month begin?
While the UK celebrates Black History Month in October, it is celebrated throughout the month of February where it originated in the United States. Black History Month was created by Harvard-educated historian Carter G Woodson, who wanted to challenge preconceptions at the time. Against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the Black Power Movement, Black History Month was born in 1969.
In the United Kingdom, Black History Month was first celebrated in London in October 1987. The aim was for local communities to challenge racism and educate themselves and others about British history that was not taught in schools.
Why is Black History Month important?
Black History Month means different things to everyone and pride for this month is expressed in a variety of different ways. For many, Black History Month is a way of reflecting on the diverse histories of those from African and Caribbean descent, taking note of the achievements and contributions to the social, political, economic and cultural development of the UK.
It’s important to remember people from the black community who have helped to shape the UK, but are often forgotten or absent from history. Although celebrating the achievements and contributions of black people is an integral part to Black History Month, we cannot underestimate how much work still needs to be done to address the barriers black communities continue to face in the UK. This is important now more than ever, especially in the light of the Windrush scandal as well as the wider awareness and emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement which has again raised the issue of the systemic injustice black people in the UK experience.
By understanding black history which has shaped where we are today, we can learn how to make change and advance race equity at an institutional, cultural and personal level. Black History Month is the chance for us as to celebrate black history, culture and achievements as well as continue to have important and educational conversations about creating an anti-racist service, which includes acknowledging the experiences and contributions of black people at Citizens Advice.
Watch documentaries and talks
- Channel 4 documentary – The Talk on black Britons sharing their experiences of the conversations parents have to help their children face racism
- Visit the Black Britain on film website for a selection of videos on black culture, community and characters, spanning over a century of British film and TV
- TEDxTalks – Black History Matters by Don John
- BBC documentary series – Black and British: A Forgotten History – Historian David Olusoga explores the enduring relationship between Britain and people whose origins lie in Africa
- TEDxTalks – Get comfortable with being uncomfortable by Luvvie Ajayi
- BBC documentary – Young, Gifted and Classical: The making of a maestro – A film following Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who became the first black winner of BBC Young Musician
- TEDxTalks – Why Representation Really Matters by Aisha Thomas
- BBC documentary – Africa turns the page David Olugosa explores the incredible journey of the African novel
Share and Read articles/reading materials
- BBC News article 2020 – The black British history you may not know about
- Guardian article 2019 – From Emperors to inventors: the unsung heros to celebrate in Black History Month
- Black Cultural Archives website – “A celebration of black history is a celebration of British history”