The History of Black History Month UK

The 1st of October 2021 marks the start of the nationally celebrated Black History Month. This year’s theme is ‘Proud To Be’ which, according to Black History Month UK Magazine, is ‘inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter’ events.

This month, people are encouraged to share what they’re proud to be on social media as part of Black History Month UK, with a big emphasis on ‘people being able to live life to the fullest without having to compromise who they are’.

Black History Month UK is celebrated in many ways such as through gatherings, food, speeches, theatre and many other events. To celebrate, we’re going to look at the history of Black History Month UK including its origin and how far the tradition has come.

Here’s the history of Black History Month:

Origin – United States, 1970

Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson’s dedication to celebrating the historic contribution of Black people paid off when the idea of celebrating Black History was proposed by black educators and black united students in 1969. The following year, in January 1970, it was celebrated on a smaller scale in only a handful of educational establishments. Fast forward six years later, Black history was being celebrated in many educational institutions, centres of black culture and community centres. This was the year that President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.” These words marked the tradition of an annual, month-long celebration of Black History.

Black History Month comes to the UK – 1987

The first UK Black History Month celebration in the UK was organised by Ghanian analyst, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, the coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council. The first celebration was held in October, in London as part of the African Jubilee Year. Ever since then, Black History Month has become an annual, month-long celebration within the UK. It’s celebrated in communities, large organisations and even educational institutes.

Themes of UK celebrations

Over recent years, the introduction of themed celebrations has been incorporated. In 2019, the theme was ‘Black Migrations’ which was aimed at challenging negative attitudes towards migration. In 2020 the theme was ‘Dig Deeper, Look Closer, Think Bigger’ which encouraged people to dig deeper and look closer at the key figures that are a fundamental part of British History as well as think bigger in your role to educate others. This year’s theme ‘Proud To Be’ emphasises on being proud about who you are. The campaign urges people to share on social media to share the pride people have in their heritage and culture and to form a really powerful overall message.

Want to know how you can get involved? Whether that’s to educate yourself a little more or see what events are happening in your area, you can visit the official Black History Month UK’s website. Why not also join in with this years ‘Proud To Be’ campaign, using the hashtag #proudtobe, and share what you are proud to be on social media?

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