Black History Month takes place every October in the UK and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the stories of diverse black communities around the country.
Below we at Arun & Chichester Citizens Advice will be outlining what Black History Month is, why it began and why it's important along with some resources and ideas you can celebrate within workplaces or communities, across Bognor Regis, Chichester, Littlehampton and across West Sussex.
“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 achieve” - Shanoy Coombs, Development Communications Specialist
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.
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.
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 of 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 a change and advance race equity at an institutional, cultural, and personal level. Black History Month is the chance for us 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.
“It's clearer than ever that Black history is everyone's history” - Joseph Harker, former editor, and publisher of the newspaper, Black Briton
Find out more about the Black Lives Matter movement or why not take a look at some of the online activities happening over the next 31 days:
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network Group
The group is open to all Citizens Advice staff and volunteers who identify themselves as being Black, Asian, or who come from a minority ethnic background, both from local and national Citizens Advice.
The group aims to create a space where BAME colleagues can come together to have open and honest discussions on areas that affect BAME employees in the workplace. As well as being a confidential space, coming together to celebrate our diversity with the wider organisation.
They will be holding talks and Open Space sessions during Black History Month which team members can get involved with, and the group regularly shares resources and content.
Team members can email firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions or want to find out more.