October marks Black History Month in the UK. The event was officially recognised by the US government in 1976, and first celebrated in the UK in 1987. It is also commemorated in other parts of Europe during October, including Ireland and the Netherlands.
People from African and Caribbean backgrounds have been a fundamental part of British history for centuries. However, many people believe their value and contribution to society is often overlooked, ignored or distorted.
Most schools still teach a history curriculum which focuses on traditional events and the achievements of white figures. Black History Month gives everyone the opportunity to share, celebrate and understand the impact of black heritage and culture.
Known as the "Father of Black History", Carter Godwin Woodson was a historian born in Virginia in the US in 1875 and was the son of former slaves. He co-founded the “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History”, in 1926 he launched the first Black History Week in the US (although it was originally called "Negro History Week"). Throughout his life he continued to work tirelessly to promote black history in schools, leaving an indelible legacy.
Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 1987, an event that was organised by Ghanaian-born Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. In the UK the month is commemorated with various events across the country, including talks, exhibitions and concerts.
Now in its 34th year, this Black History Month has a renewed focus on black British resistance to racism – inspired in part by last year’s Black Lives Matter protests – and celebrates key figures who have made substantial contributions to the country.
This year’s theme is “Proud to Be”. People of all ages are being encouraged to share what they are proud to be on social media.
Black History Month magazine has sent 500 resource packs to UK schools which include information about key moments in Black British History and a wide variety of lesson plans. The magazine has encouraged people to join its social media campaign.
Catherine Ross, the editor of Black History Month UK, said: “It’s been a challenging time for many Black and Brown people, with so much in the media about racism, inequality and injustice. We wanted the theme of Black History Month 2021 to focus on celebrating being Black or Brown, and to inspire and share the pride people have in their heritage and culture – in their own way, in their own words.”
If you are looking for inspiration on books to use this Black History Month, and every month, take a look at our collection