October is Black History Month in the United Kingdom. This national commemoration celebrates the contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent to British society, as well as to foster a knowledge of global Black history in general.
Black History Month began in the UK in October 1987. Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, a Ghanaian activist and coordinator for special projects for the Greater London Council, was instrumental in establishing the annual celebration. “I was stirred up in the mid-1980s by the identity crisis that Black children faced as some brazenly would not identify with Africa and shrank when called an African,” he said in a 2017 interview.
Celebrated in October to coincide with the start of the academic year, Black History Month UK has evolved into a major cultural and political event that highlights the historical and ongoing contributions of Black Britons.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Saluting Our Sisters,” which has been chosen by Black History Month UK. This organization promotes the month with a resource pack, magazine, and other educational materials.
A number of historical and contemporary leading Black women are featured in this year’s resource pack, including Mary Seacole, Claudia Jones, Olive Morris, Diane Abbott, Jacqueline McKenzie and Dame Sharon White.
‘Saluting our Sisters’ highlights the “crucial role that Black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.” According to Black History Month Magazine, the celebration will highlight pioneering Black women who have made remarkable contributions across various fields, including politics, health care, music, fashion, sports, and more.
“So why are we focusing on Black women this year? That’s been the topic of many conversations over the last few months, but for me, there were a number of things that have happened both politically and culturally that have made me think about how we can mark and recognize Black women,” Black History Month Magazine editor, Cherron Inko-Tariah told The Guardian.
While Black History Month would always be a time to celebrate Black Britons of all backgrounds, Inko-Tariah added, “There has been a point where Black women’s voices have been silenced: their ideas and contributions ignored, in history and today. I wanted us to just take stock and say we’re here; this is what we’ve done, and that needs to be celebrated.”
This year’s theme will also center on themes like resilience, self-care, and well-being to highlight the tenacity of black women throughout history.
“It is time to celebrate their accomplishments and encourage future generations to take care of themselves and their communities,” said Inko-Tariah.