Why Do We Celebrate Black History Month In October?

1 October 2020, 16:09

Black History Month has never been more necessary in 2020
Black History Month has never been more necessary in 2020. Picture: Getty Images

Black History Month is held in the UK every October to celebrate Black British people, their achievements, cultures and contributions- so when did it begin and why is it held in this particular month?

Black History Month has arrived as we see in October here in the UK, and it is an annual celebration of all Black people and culture in Britain, as well as a chance for everyone to educate and acknowledge themselves an the experiences and histories of Black British people.

So, why do we celebrate it in October, when did it begin, and what does BHM mean in 2020?

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When was the first Black History Month?

Black History Month was first celebrated in London in October 1987 after being organised by Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo.

There doesn't seem to be a definite answer as to why it is held in October in the UK every month, but it has been suggested it is designed to coincide with the start of the school year so children are able to get stuck into learning about Black history.

However, it is widely believed the national curriculum does not go nearly far enough in teaching young people comprehensively about Black people's history, culture or experiences.

There have been renewed efforts in 2020 by many to decolonise the curriculum in order to teach a more accurate reflection of those who in this country, of all ethnicities, religions and cultures and one that doesn't celebrate the colonial era of British rule.

What does Black History Month mean in 2020?

2020 has been a pivotal year in the fight for justice and equality for Black people both here and in the USA, with a spotlight shone on the institutional racism experienced so disproportionately by the Black population sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota.

His death sparked widespread and prolonged protests in the UK, headed by the Black Lives Matter movement and 'laid bare the the scale and impact of institutionalised racism in the UK.'

For example, young Black men were stopped and searched 20,000 times in London during the coronavirus lockdown (the equivalent of 1 in 4 young Black men).

So, this year's BHM is an important and better chance than ever to celebrate all aspects of Black British culture and unify behind the cause for a society without racism, in every aspect.

As Catherine Ross, the guest editor of Black History Month 2020 so perfectly summed up: "2020 has held a mirror up to the world and forced many to see the reality of racism in all its guises."

From Black people dying disproportionately in the pandemic, to the horrific murder of George Floyd and no justice for Breonna Taylor."

"Black History Month 2020 is also a time to look forward and celebrate the here and now – and the future possibilities."

"In years gone by, October has been the only time of year when the UK talks about the achievements of Black people in Britain."

"Hopefully, the events of 2020 will be a catalyst for Black history to be shared much more widely – in museums, galleries, schools, universities, public spaces and communities."

To find out more about Black History Month or to find events local to your area, visit the official website.

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