Black History Month
About Black History Month
We owe the concept of Black History Month to the son of former enslaved people, Dr. Carter G Woodson, an African American scholar, who noted that American history books largely ignored the Black American Population. You can find out more about the life of Dr. Carter G Woodson here.
The UK has a very different history of migration and diversity, and although there are clear parallels in the need to illuminate hidden histories in the UK and US, there was a need for an approach that fits the UK context. The first UK Black History Month was launched in October 1987 by the Greater London Council (GLC) thanks to the efforts of Ethnic Minorities Unit staff Ansel Wong and Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, along with Cllr. Linda Bellos, Cllr. Narendra Makanji and Deputy Leader of Education, Bernard Wiltshire.
Whilst stressing that African history was very much central to Black History Month in the UK, Ansel Wong explained the broader context: "Some have questioned our use of the term “Black” instead of “African”. We deliberately chose to call it “Black” as Black posited and reflected tolerance and acceptance of the enriching cultural diversity of contemporary British society. Black is also a unifier term that brings into sharp relief the various strands of suffering, humiliation, exploitation and denigration as well as an articulation of solidarity and the building of allies in relation to shared and common experiences."
In Scotland, we follow the same model, and CRER has co-ordinated a uniquely Scottish Black History Month during October since 2001. This encompasses the history of African, Caribbean and Asian people in this country; people who often have a direct link with Scotland through slavery, colonialism and migration. Black History Month focuses on people whose sacrifices, contributions and achievements against a backdrop of racism, inequality and injustice are often forgotten about.
We know that one month is not enough. These stories are still largely absent from our history books and education system, and we campaign to change this every month of the year.