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Black History Month

October and Oadby & Wigston Borough Council welcomes Black History Month, an annual commemoration of the history, achievements and contributions of black people in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Black Diaspora.

From educational talks to food festivals, this month is packed with events celebrating African and Caribbean cultures and histories.

Originating in the US, the UK celebrates Black History Month in October whereas in the United States of America commemorations take place throughout February.

So why do the United Kingdom and the USA differ in their Black History Months, and why is having a Black History Month in the United Kingdom so important?

Here is everything you need to know:

Who started Black History Month?

In the United Kingdom, Black History Month was created by historian Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950). He wanted to challenge preconceptions at the time that 'the African has no history' and founded The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 .This encouraged scholars and historians to research and preserve black history and culture. In February 1926, Mr Woodson founded Negro History Week.

It was later decided that a week was not long enough and, against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement, Black History Month was born in 1969.

Like most things that originate in the USA, it was not long before word about Black History Month made its way to the United Kingdom.

After visiting America in the 1970s, Ghanaian-born Akyaaba Addai Sebo, a special projects officer at the Greater London Council, founded the United Kingdom`s version of Black History Month in 1987.

Why is Black History Month celebrated in October in the UK and February in the United States?

The United States celebrates in February because the birthdays of former United States President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass fall within this month.

There are two reasons thought to be behind why Black History Month is celebrated in October in the United Kingdom.

Traditionally, October is when African chiefs and leaders gather to settle their differences, so Akyaaba chose this month to reconnect with African rooted traditions. Additionally, many thought that since it was the beginning of the new academic year, October would support African Heritage children in sustaining their self-worth and identity.

Why is Black History Month important?

Black History Month means different things to everyone and pride for this month is expressed in a variety of different ways.

A file photo of Jamaican immigrants being welcomed to the UK in 1948 (PA Wire/PA Images)

For many, Black History Month is a way of reflecting on the diverse histories of those from African and Caribbean descent, taking note of the achievements and contributions to the social, political, economic and cultural development of the United Kingdom.

Named notable inspirational Black British women throughout history you may wish to read about.

· Jamaican-born Mary Seacole acted as an army nurse during the Crimea war.

· Claudia Jones was editor of the West Indian Gazette and founder of the Notting Hill Carnival.

· Adelaide Hall became Britain's highest paid entertainer in 1941.

· Margaret Busby became Britain's youngest and first Black woman book publisher

· Olive Morris was a political activist and community organiser who established the Brixton Black Women's Group

· Musician Joan Armatrading is a three-time Grammy nominee and received an Ivor Novello Awardfor Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection.

· Athlete Tessa Sanderson became the first British black woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

· Baroness Lawrence OBE campaigned tirelessly for reforms of the police service after her son, Stephen Lawrence, was murdered in a racist attack.

· Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE is a space scientist and educator. She runs her own company and co-hosts the world's longest running TV series, The Sky at Night.

· Sharon White was the second permanent secretary at HM Treasury, the first black person, and the second woman, to hold the position.

· Writer Malorie Blackman held the position of Children's Laureate from 2013 to 2015.

· Diane Abbot a British Labour Party politician, became the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons.

· Zadie Smith's acclaimed novel White Teethwas highly decorated for its portrayal of multicultural London

· West Indies veteran Lilian Bader was one of the first black women to join the armed forces.

To learn more about please visit: https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk.

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