The history of Black History Month
This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History month in the UK. This annual commemoration was first celebrated in 1987, over a year after the abolition of the Greater London council (GLC). In order to understand Black History Month, we must take you back to the time where Akyaaba Sebo, a special projects coordinator at the GLC visited America in the 1970s and created the UK’s version of Black History Month after experiencing it in the US.
In comparison to the US, this nation’s reasoning to why BHM falls in October is because this month is when African leaders and chiefs would traditionally gather to settle their differences. This was a means for Akyaaba to reconnect with his African roots. Additionally, many thought considering this month was the beginning of the new academic year, it would provide young children and students the opportunity to take pride in their identity and to celebrate it with their communities. In contrast, the US celebrates its BHM in February to encompass the birthdays of two significant Americans, former President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglas who played a prominent role in shaping Black history.
It is important to note that in the 1920s, historian Carter G, Woodson launched the first celebration of Negro History Week to recognise and encourage the teaching of the history of Black Americans in the nation’s public schools. This then was extended to a yearly celebration to deepen the study on Black history, particularly African American. BHM is now celebrated annually by Britons for every culture in the Black community. This this year’s theme is ‘Proud To Be’ with individuals encouraged to share their pride in aspects of their culture and heritage on social media platforms. Our fight to implement Black History as a permanent part of the curriculum in schools across the UK is on-going. Now more than ever, following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, we encourage our students to constantly take pride in their identity and celebrate your heritage in all its magnificent forms.
Happy Black History Month!