black history month briefing

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NUS Black Students' Campaign BHM Briefing


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  • 3Up and down the country local authorities, students unions and community groups are organising events and workshops to celebrate the history of Black

    peoples during October.

    Black History Month seeks to promote knowledge of Black History and experience, to share information across communities on positive Black contributions to British society, and to heighten the awareness of Black people in their cultural heritage.

    NUS Black Students Campaign is therefore encouraging you with the support of your Black and cultural clubs and societies to take up activities during this month-long initiative. By embracing our diverse student communities, you can be part of the national drive to educate, inform, celebrate and share the history of all our cultures across our campuses.

    At the moment Black communities, are being further stigmatised and marginalised by the grow-ing climate of racism in society. We need to be joining campaigns and actively trying to make a dif-

    ference. This is important if we are to try to make this world a better place. It is important if we are to leave our own legacies, as our predecessors have done before us. Black History Month gives us a platform to highlight all these issues affecting Black people here and around the world.

    This briefing offers ideas for you to use in your institution and Black students group during Black History Month. In addition to ideas of activities and events you could organise, we have also included a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), a list of great Black Britons, a model article to place in your union publication, and useful links to other websites. For more information you can also visit the Black Students Campaign web site at:

    However, should you require any further assistance or resources, we are more than willing to offer any help you may need in co-ordinating your activities. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Equally, please feedback details on your local action so that we can publicise your events on the campaign web site!


    Yours in unity,

    Naa-Anyima QuayeNUS Black StudentsCommitteeBHM Guide Deputy-Editor

    Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy NUS Black Students Officer (20089) E: T: 07950 614 989

  • 4for at the beginning of each financial year. Other councils pick up and absorb publicity or venue hire costs in some cases.

    if black history month derives from the US, why and when was it set up there?Carter G Woodson initiated the Negro History Week in 1926, which then became Black History Month. He chose February because the birthdays of the two influential figures Abraham Lincoln, US president and Frederick Douglass who he believed to have impacted on the conditions of the Negro, fell in February. The late African-American writer, John Hernik Clarke wrote: If we are to change tomorrow, we are going to have to look back with some courage, and warm our hands on the revolutionary fires of those who came before us. This quote was a catalyst for Addais plans at the GLC in 1987.

    what are the dates for black history month and why october?Black History Month runs throughout the month of October. There has long been concern about the experience of Black children in the UK, and this was a key factor in setting October as the Black History Month. It is at the beginning of a new academic year and can instil pride and identity into young Black learners. The month is also significant within the African cultural calendar because the autumn equinox in Africa coincides with the harvest period, and is a time of plenty. October

    frequently asked questionswhen was black history month set up in the UK, and by whom?Akyaaba Addai Sebbo is widely regarded as the instigator of Black History Month in the UK. Addai worked with Ken Livingstone at the Greater London Council (GLC) as co-ordinator of Special Projects. The first event was held on 1st October 1987, when the GLC hosted Dr Maulana Karenga from the US to mark the contributions of Black people throughout history. Addai began thinking about celebrations of Black history, and drew up a plan to recognise the contributions of African, Asian, Caribbean and Arab people to the economic, cultural and political life in London and the UK. Since 1987 was also part of African Jubilee Year, other boroughs began to formally institute a Black History Month in the UK.

    what form do events take and where are they held?Initiatives take place across the UK with voluntary groups, local authorities, primary care trusts, museums and libraries often taking a lead in planning events. All projects use the skills and experiences of the local workforce and community in the planning and delivery. Smaller groups do equally good work on limited budgets, e.g. running supplementary schools, which incorporate history, or incorporating the Black History Month theme into existing events. There is always a rich programme of events: storytelling, historical walks, theatrical productions, comedy and panel debates are a few examples, but all have history as an integral part of their purpose. Some employers, especially local authorities, can earmark specific budgets, which groups can apply

  • 5frequently asked questionsis also a period of tolerance and reconciliation in African culture. Black history is therefore a reconnection with the African source, hence the Black History Month symbol of Sankofa learning from the past with the benefit of hindsight.

    who celebrates black history month? can anyone participate, or is just for black people?Black History Month is open to participation by everyone and is ideally developed, delivered and managed as an educational and historical awareness experience by Black people African, Asian, Caribbean and Arab heritage and should be shared by everyone as world history.

    why do black people need a history month?In an ideal world, the month would not be necessary, because educational establishments and the national curriculum would fully recognise and appreciate the contribution of Black people throughout history. Sadly that is not the case. The Black community uses this history month as an opportunity to share with the world its vast contributions: a time to demonstrate pride in its creativity, respect for its intellectual prowess and a celebration of its cultural identity which is far too often misrepresented, when it is not being ignored, in the mainstream.

    how can I find out more about bhm latest news and events?As the stature of Black History Month grows, there are national Black History Month publications to bring together and document the full diversity of events taking place in towns and cities around Britain. Some such magazines are Black History Month Magazine, Black Heritage Today and Black History 365. They are available free from libraries across the UK. See the links section for details.

    is black history month recognised by the government? are there any government-backed events?Black History Month is recognised by the government and many MPs get involved in hosting and chairing events, speaking at launches, and have provided forwards for the two magazines. The GLA, local authorities, and the Home Office have Black workers networks, which organise seminars every year for staff. Ask your local politicians to support your initiatives!

  • 6That will go forth to all the coloured nations of the world. They will look to Battersea and say, It is the greatest thing you have done. You have shown that you have no racial prejudice, but recognise a man for what you think he has done.

    linda bellosLinda Bellos is best known as a gay and political rights activist, and former leader of Lambeth Council. Linda was the first Black woman to join the Spare Rib feminist collective and was vice-chair of the campaign to select Black candidates in the Labour Party. On being elected Leader of Lambeth Council, she became the first Black women to hold such a post. As chair of Londons Strategic Policy Unit in the 1980s, she helped introduce Black History Month. Her work on mainstreaming equality within the British Army and Metropolitan Police gave her an insight into some major institutions, which she used to benefit other public authorities and set up her own specialist equality company, Diversity Solutions Consultancy. Linda retains an active involvement in the voluntary and community sector, which keeps her work relevant and valid to grassroots communities.

    beryl gilroy Beryl Gilroy made her name as a leading Caribbean writer, although her major impact was as an educationalist, and Britains first Black head teacher. Much of her writing conveyed the way in which generations of West Indian families were affected by life in Britain. Her later work explored the history of the African and Caribbean Diaspora through slavery. Having trained as a teacher in Guyana, Beryl found employment in inner London, where she soon rose to head of a primary school. Beryl later joined the Institute of Education and the Centre for Multicultural Education, during which time she applied her psychological knowledge to her teaching experience. Beryl went on to secure a doctorate in counselling psychology and a fellowship at the Institute of Education.

    peter herbert qcPeter Herbert QC is a barrister and judge, and the chair of the Society of Black Lawyers. A longstanding campaigner and human rights advocate, Peter is one of two Black members on the Metropolitan Police Authority with a range of contemporary interests from employment

    great black britonsHere are some further examples of successful Black Britons who have made substantial contributions to British society:

    ade adepitanHaving survived polio as a youngster, Ade went on to com