Black History Month
- What is Black History Month?
Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 1987 and takes place every year in October.
Black History Month aims to raise awareness of Black lives and contributions. Often excluded from history books and focussing heavily on negative histories (slavery, colonialism), it’s a time to share stories and address the balance.
Black people have lived in the UK for hundreds of years – probably as far back as the 12th century. But if you are an adult who grew up in the UK, how many books or history lessons covered positive stories about Black people or even stories of Black people in diverse roles and positions of power or leadership?
Of course, Black history and inclusion should be recognised all year round, but Black History Month, like many national and international events, provides an opportunity to put aside everything else we are juggling and pay greater attention to a topic that has often been overlooked.
- What does 'Black' mean?
The term Black is often used as a political term that acknowledges the oppression or exploitation Black-African and other ethnic groups have experienced through colonialism or slavery, or forms of racism – whether that is ignorance, avoidance, hate crime, harassment or exclusion because of skin colour, national or ethnic origin.
DCC’s Black History Month wishes to explore the stories of anyone who considers themselves BAME* which we will collectively refer to as Black including but not limited to: Black African/African Caribbean, East Asian (China, Hong Kong, Japan etc), South Asian (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc) and Southeast Asian heritage (Philippines, Thailand etc.), Arab, Romany Gypsy/Roma, and first peoples of the Americas and Australasia.
*The terms ‘BME’ or ‘BAME’ (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) are also commonly used but ‘minority ethnic’ on its own should be avoided as globally, and in some districts in the UK, Black / Asian people are not a minority. Some people also view the term ‘minority’ as implying marginal or less important although that is not its intention.
The political term Black differs from the ethnicity classification often used in diversity monitoring. In the UK Census ‘Black’ is used to describe African/African Caribbean ethnic origin only, and Asian, Arab and other ethnicities are categorised separately. BAME can also be used to include other people who are not included in the ‘White British’ category such as ‘White other’ (this can include White French, White Australian, White American etc).
How does the UK Black History Month differ from the American Black History Month?
American Black History Month refers to people of Black-African origin and is focussed on the civil rights movement. Whilst its origins started in the early twentieth century, Black History Month was first officially celebrated in February 1970. In America, the term ‘people of colour’ may also be used, but is less popular in the UK. The terms ‘coloured’ and ‘non-White’ should also be avoided.
Calendar of Events
If you are running an event in Devon to mark Black History Month, please tell us and we will add it to our calendar of events:
Start the Week Discussions
Devon County Council, in partnership with Devon Development Education is planning a series of weekly discussion about Black History in Devon.
We want to hear from BAME people living in Devon willing to share their personal stories for an online exhibition, by answering three questions:
- From the perspective of your ethnic / cultural background, what has changed for you since growing up in, or coming to, the UK? What do you remember from your childhood, teenage years, as a young adult / student?
- What is it currently like to live in Devon as a person with BAME heritage? How does this compare with your childhood / youth? Are there particular places or happenings that you think celebrate or support ethnic / cultural diversity well? To what extent do you feel ‘visible’ in your community or to businesses and services and is this visibility one of respect and understanding?
- Why is exploring cultural heritage such as celebrating Black History Month important?
You can share your stories anonymously, but if you are able to tell us who you are and share photographs (maybe of your childhood?) then it will make the exhibition all the more interesting. You can take part as a family too or submit a video. To take part – complete our questionnaire or email your responses to us.