Black History Month UK is an important annual observance taking place during October as the heritage, achievements and contributions of Black people are celebrated throughout the country through curated events.
Every Black History Month UK celebration comes with a theme, this year’s being “Time for Change: Action Not Words.” This theme highlights the importance of improving the future by uniting and implementing actions that will create a better world for everyone. That means acknowledging and tackling racism, understanding that representation matters, and not erasing Black history.
The History of Black History Month
On 7 February 1926, American historian Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) launched the first “Negro History Week” in a bid to celebrate Black history. Born to former slaves, he became the second African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard in 1912. He later founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, which encouraged historians to research and preserve black history and culture.
With the rise of the civil rights movement and the Black Panther movement, the week became a month-long celebration in 1969, making it an important part of Black culture.
Black History Month UK
In the 1970s, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo travelled to the US, where he celebrated Black History Month. As he felt a sense of pride, he recognised the importance of having a similar event in the UK. The Ghanaian-born pan-African activist later moved to the UK and founded the Black History Month UK in 1987.
Events taking place during Black History Month UK
Black Culture Market – a free London event that will feature Black-owned businesses.
Walker Art Gallery – a free after-hours art event in Liverpool
Craft at Wood Street Library – a free family-friendly event in London where you’ll help create a photo collage of famous black figures.
BHM Live – a Leicester event with live performances.
Go Africa Festival of Arts – a free event in Islington Town Hall that will showcase everything from fashion photography to textiles from various African countries.
More events can be found on the Black History Month official website. If you’re looking for London-specific events, click here.
Books to read by emerging Black authors
Reclaiming by Yewanda Biala
The former Love Island contestant recently released her debut book Reclaiming, made up of interlinked essays highlighting a range of subjects, including self-love, while tackling topics we face in today’s society.
My hidden race by Anyika Onuora
Olympic medallist Anyika Onuora shares honest truths about her reality of being a Black British female athlete. She has competed and stood on podiums worldwide, which she shares in this unflinching testimonial book. A hearty read, it shows the courage and fearlessness it takes to pursue your dreams.
Feeling Myself: How I shed my shame to find sexual freedom and you can too by Natalie Lee
The honest and revealing memoir takes the reader on an important journey. Through her own experiences., Lee enters the world of self-discovery regarding sex and relationships. The thought-provoking topics invite readers to let go of the shame concerning sex to reach a level of freedom.
Honey & Spice by Bola Babalola
A brilliant debut, Honey & Spice is a sharp-tongued rom-com that combines tension and romance with humour and passion, whisking you into the world of the main character Kikiola ‘Kiki Banjo. Babalola has written a dishy book that will leave you wanting more.
In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lola Akinmade Åkerström
This gripping novel tells a story through the perspective of three women whose lives are linked through one city: Stockholm. It is a fast-paced and intriguing book that shares the reality of being a Black woman in this world.