Black History Month is an annual celebration of people of African descent. The observance has originated in the United States where the celebration is approached as African-American History Month. In addition to what we have in the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom is not the only country that has a tradition of annual observation. The other countries that pay due respect are Ireland and the Netherlands, yet it is safe to say that the global community also participates in various international events.
So what is Black History Month for the British people? Speaking of the United Kingdom, it was first celebrated in London, back in 1987. The event has been fueled by the speech that was held at the Country Hall by the famous American Dr. Maulana Karenga who spoke about the lives, woes, and contributions of the Black people throughout our history. It was a call for recognition and racial recognition changes in our society.
Approaching The Facts
Numerous colleges and universities across Great Britain became prominent participants in the field of education. Black History Month became more than just a celebration of racial justice and basic human rights. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, it is about making a huge difference and recognizing generations of African and Caribbean descent people who have done their best to shape our nation by making a huge difference to our cultural life and understanding that all people must be equal. The current Black History Month in the UK is held from October 1, 2021, to October 31, 2021. The colleges and schools in Great Britain focus on studies of personalities like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King. Although the focus is on Black British history. The roles of these true heroes for the world are always studied by students regardless of course.
According to the recent statistics, Black British citizens of African and/or African-Caribbean ancestry represent the largest ethnic minority population. The black population in the UK, as such, makes up three percent of the total population. At the same time, an increase in racial prejudice during the first decade and a half of this century has been noted. Celebration of Black History Month in the UK is the way to educate people and prevent hate crimes and discrimination motivated by race and prejudice.
The Significant Contributors in the UK Black History
Each time Black History Month is celebrated in the UK, it always revolves around important personalities who have made their timeless contribution to making our country a better and safer place to live. Starting with Sir Trevor MacDonald, a most well-known presenter on TV in Britain, and Lennox Lewis to Sir Learie Constantine and John Edmonstone (taxidermy and scientific research), it is safe to say that contributions of these people were often ignored or just played down as the racial prejudice always carried a negative part. The purpose of Black History Month in the UK is to celebrate the people. It is their timeless legacy that has played an important role for the social freedoms, justice, mutual understanding, and the important achievements that have no race, colour of skin, background, political views, or age. The British universities have taken a correct approach as their studies during this month focus exclusively on the Black History Month people.
As a rule, the contribution of Nelson Mandela is also provided as an important BHM example. Racial prejudice can be encountered anywhere where people lack education and emotional empathy. Turning to historical examples is paramount for correct perception and understanding of our nation’s history.
The role of Olaudah Equiano who has played a major role in the abolition of the slave trade is also studied. As August 23 is known as the International Day for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and is celebrated or remembered all over the world, it’s the role of Olaudah Equiano that has helped organise protests of the slaves and achieve the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act that has been passed by the British Parliament. The significant event took place on 25 March 1807. Therefore, remembering each person and date is the main objective of Black History Month as it is introduced and celebrated in British schools and universities nationwide.
The Useful Resources
As you study various activities that are offered by your school or university, remember that you can always explore important resources on this topic on your own. The EduBirdie UK has also prepared a useful resource pack that could be useful for every student in the UK.
Here are some important Black History month resources to consider:
- Black History Month 2021 UK. This amazing website provides information on celebrations, important events, campaigns, and educational initiatives related to Black History Month in the country. You can choose a region and find all relevant information easier to make sure that you do not miss anything that is offered locally.
- BIPOC STEM Network at Oxford University. It is a new initiative aimed at Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. The aim of this network is to promote and support the work of people of colour within the academic community and research projects across the country. It strives for the creation of a more diverse and inclusive environment.
- Writers Make Worlds. It is a great website for those who would like to explore various resources on over 40 Black British writers. It also explores Asian British writers and focuses on diversity and equity. This way you can study various contributions in the field of literature, education, science, and academic research as you prepare your presentation for Black History Month in the UK.
- Race and Resistance across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century. It is backed up by Oxford’s Research Centre in the Humanities. This initiative brings researchers, students, parents, and activists together as they unite their efforts in the exploration of history, literature, science, and cultural materials through the lens of anti-racist movements both in the UK and beyond.
Explore these helpful BHM resources and always ask your academic advisor about the locally-held events!
Black History Month Cultural Significance
Most importantly, as you explore Black History Month UK, remember that you have the power to make a positive contribution and be the change you want to see in society. Focus on the cultural significance and start with the exploration of key events and personalities that have played their role in British history. Even the minor contribution matters! The celebration of Black History Month, your reflection on the Black Lives Matter social movement, local college initiatives, and a personal slideshow project contributes to racial equality, recognition of the Black descent individuals, and a better future for the United Kingdom and the world.
- Eventbrite. It is a great resource for finding out about the Black History Month events online that take place in the UK. It can be filtered by date, price, category, format, language, and even currency for international travelers. What makes this resource unique is that you can find those events that match your education or choose those that are within walking proximity.
- Bristol Museum (The Bristol Bus Boycott). Do not ignore visiting online museums in the UK to learn more about the nation’s first black-led campaign that is known as the Bristol Buy Boycott. As you get ready for Black History Month 2021, it is essential to start by learning more about the history of the protests and the most prominent dates in British history that have acted as turning points. Online museums with their original documents, photographs, and stories by historical figures from the past and present times represent the safest and most significant way to learn.
- Under-representation of the Black People in the UK. This research has been organised and conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. It has been covered by the BBC, which is another great resource that can be used as you study race and leadership issues that have been in the news media in 2020. It serves as a great guide for finding relevant information regardless of your research field.
- National Education Union. This resource provides Black History Month posters and the basic teaching pack for students and educators that are free to use. It also lists recommendations for the teachers and guidelines for remote and online studies that include Podcast links.