What is Black History Month and why does it matter?

What is Black History Month and why does it matter?

Date: 20/10/22

Author: Shia Mitchell

First celebrated in 1987, October marks Black History Month in the UK. Here’s a deep dive into what makes this month so special and how you can get more involved.

Man on video call

Who founded Black History Month?  

Formally known as the “Father of Black History”, American historian, author, journalist and scholar Carter G Woodson dedicated his life to promoting black history in schools. His great efforts led to the creation of the more widely known ‘Black History Month.’

What is Black History Month all about?

First celebrated in 1976 in the US and 1987 in the UK, Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements of black figures throughout history.

Black history month - equal rights protest

When was Black History Month first acknowledged?  

First celebrated in February 1976 in the US, this date coincided with the births of both former President Abraham Lincoln and escaped slave turned iconic activist Frederick Douglass.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo set up Black History Month in the UK and chose October to align with the 150th anniversary of Caribbean emancipation. He also hoped this would be the best time to incorporate Black History into British schools by inspiring young people just returning from their summer holidays.

Where is Black History Month celebrated? 

The US, Germany and Canada celebrate Black History Month in February. Whereas the Netherlands, UK and Ireland choose to commemorate the event in October.

Black history month - black man playing violin

Why is Black History Month month important?  

The month offers an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the notable contributions to British history from those with African or Caribbean heritage. Without Black History Month, the achievements of many renowned black figures would otherwise be overlooked.

Some also feel that the western school history curriculum often focuses on the achievements and contributions of white figures in the traditional key historical events. Black History Month offers an opportunity to shed light on the unseen black minority groups (such as the Windrush generation) that were also fundamental to the success of these events.

How can I celebrate it? 

Whether you want to immerse yourself in black-led series and shows or delve into the culture and figures that make Black History Month so special, we have a range of blogs that'll help keep you busy.