what is black history month?

Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 1987 and was inspired by the American Black History Month that was first promoted by Carter G. Woodson, a historian, journalist, author and son of former slaves who dedicated his life to raising awareness about the contributions of African Americans to American history. The American Black History Month is celebrated in February to align with the birth months of former President Abraham Lincoln and activist Frederick Douglass, who both played a significant role in the abolition of slavery. However, the British Black History Month takes place in October with some sources stating that this month was chosen to coincide with the start of the academic year in an attempt to engage schools and other educational institutions.

People from African and Caribbean backgrounds have played fundamental roles in the development of modern-day society, but in schools, history classes still tend to focus on the events and perspectives concerning White people. Black History Month prompts us to celebrate key Black figures in history and present-day whilst also providing an opportunity for individuals to expand their understanding of the impact racism and stereotypes can have, and to learn and adopt strategies to challenge race inequalities.

This year’s theme, “Saluting Our Sisters”, pays homage to the Black women that have been at the heart of social justice movements throughout history, courageously battling oppression and advocating for change. “Saluting Our Sisters” intends to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of black women and we will be taking the opportunity to put a spotlight on stories from within our Community.

Unsure how to celebrate Black History Month in your organisation? We have produced a ‘5 ways to’ guide for you, view the resource.