Understanding and celebrating Black History Month UK 2023
Author: Angela M, chief executive officer of International Black History Month UK
October marks the start of Black History Month in the UK. This national celebration aims to celebrate, remember, and reflect on the contributions of African and Caribbean heritage people to the British economy, culture, and history.
UK Black History was partly inspired by US Black History Month (also known as African American History Month), which is ‘an annual celebration of achievement by African Americans and a time for recognising their central role in US history.” US Black History Month is celebrated annually every February.
Despite similar mission statements, these two months are not the same and should not be treated that way. The experiences and perspectives of Black people born and raised in Britain are very different from the experiences of those in the United States.
Here in the UK, we use the month to examine and tell the stories of those lesser well-known Britons of African and Caribbean heritage whose stories we’ll forget if we don’t showcase them. It's also an opportunity for people to learn more about the effects of racism and how to challenge negative stereotypes.
Each UK Black History Month has a theme, and this year’s is ‘Before Windrush’. Throughout the month, they’ll be exploring the lives and stories of Black people who were living and working in the UK before the arrival of Windrush in 1948.
How can Local and Town Parish recognise the month? Below are a few ideas to help you get started.
Encourage learning about Black History Month.
Inspire your team to learn more about Black historical figures by highlighting stories and resources somewhere where employees will see them. Black History Month UK is a great starting point to expand your knowledge and understanding of UK Black history and culture. For example, you can learn about the African Caribbean POWs who were held in Porchester Castle during the Napoleonic Wars in the 18th century or discover the story of Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, who was one of the first Black nurses in the NHS and has been dubbed the ‘African Florence Nightingale’. You can find more information and resources on UK Black History at International Black History Month UK (IBHM).
Conduct a DEI survey at your organisation.
We also advise organisations to run a DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) audit of their business. Surveys make it easier to understand your company's current state of DEI, pinpoint focus areas, and run intersectional analyses that can guide companies towards meaningful action.
Engage in Black History Month UK through reading.
Finally, you can also engage with the month through reading, and the IBHM organisation has several good reads via their book recommendations initiative for Black History Month UK.
Remember, everyone can participate in Black History Month UK by championing, celebrating workplace diversity, and embracing it through demonstrating inclusivity and challenging bad behaviours.
Happy Black History Month, UK!
The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.