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Black History Month - what is it and why do we celebrate it?

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As you may already be aware October is Black History Month in the UK, having been celebrated nationwide for over 30 years. What you might not know, is why we choose to celebrate it.

What is Black History Month?

Black History Month was originally set up to recognise the contributions that people from African and Caribbean backgrounds have made to the UK over the years. However, now the month has expanded to not only celebrate African and Caribbean backgrounds, but to recognise black people in general and the contributions they have made to British society. Black History month was launched in the UK in the 1980’s in London and was the result of a local community activism that challenged racism amongst the British society.

Today, Black History Month has become an important date in the British and American cultural calendars, with museums, galleries, musicians and even local authorities playing their part to represent and celebrate the achievements of black people. In the US, where Black History Month originated, the awareness month is held in February and is also known as African-American History Month.

What does Black History mean to people?

Black History Month can mean different things to different people and is often expressed in more than one way. For some people it’s a time to reflect on the diverse histories of African and Caribbean descent, for others it’s a time to take action and make efforts toimprove the representation of black people in society and for others, it’s a time to progress the teaching of black history in every day education.

Throughout history, Black people have always made significant contributions and achievements, but they have had to fight for decades to be seen as equals in today’s society. Even in today’s society black people are having to continue to fight for a better life, hence why the month is so important.

What is done for Black History Month?

Black History Month in the UK is typically commemorated with numerous events across the country including talks and seminars, exhibitions and even concerts. However, due to Coronavirus pandemic, events due to take place this year have had to be adapted to help adhere to the social distancing guidelines. There are still a number of online campaigns taking place throughout the month that you can get involved in; https://naacp.org/latest/28-ways-celebrate-black-history-month/. 

Why is there a need for Black History Month?

Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of Black people to society and recognising their struggles for freedom and equality.

In an ideal world, we would all be treated equally and be given equal opportunities in society so we therefore wouldn’t need to dedicate one month to a specific race. Unfortunately this isn’t the case and as Black people and their allies continue to battle for equality, there is worldwide recognition that we must help to celebrate all that Black people have done and will do for us in the future. This month also provides a valuable opportunity for us to educate ourselves and develop our understanding of the nation’s history which not only improves our knowledge of our past but also paves the way for our future.

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