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Celebrating Black History Month in school and at home

Celebrating Black History Month in school and at home

What is Black History Month?

October is Black History Month here in the UK. We celebrate Black History Month (BHM) across the country to not only challenge racism, but to further the cause of greater recognition of, and education on the important historical events and people that are often overlooked in the history books. You can check out more information on BHM, including events and resources, here.

BHM was originally created in the USA to celebrate African American achievements. Across the pond, they celebrate in February. The UK's Black History Month was created in London in the 1980s to recognise the contributions that African and African-Carribbean people have made to Britain. Now, it's expanded to include the history of all black people.

"For me personally black history became tangible when reading my mother's book "Roots," by Alex Haley [...]

In my country, The Netherlands, this world of those having been discriminated all their lives and their families used, is only being opened up and made more clear for "white outsiders" since one or two years. Finally Dutch people are becoming more open to accept their own history - the 17th century for example not being a "golden" age for everyone, realising the cruelties and inhumane actions our wealth was built upon.

I think "Roots" should be mentioned on reading lists for High School, making other cultures and histories tangible"

Niki, Y10 parent

Why is it important?

No matter our background or where we come from, it's important for all of us to have a better understanding of black history. Learning about black history can help us understand the roots of racism and why it exists today. Understanding where it came from can help us to break down barriers of racism and prejudice.

Although labelled 'Black History', it's important to understand that black history isn't separate from the wider history of the UK or the world as a whole. In fact, it's fundamental to it. Black History Month aims to raise awareness of this fact to create lasting change beyond this yearly celebration. It puts a spotlight not only on the negative and upsetting, but nonetheless important, aspects of black history such as the slave trade, but all of the positive achievements and contributions of black men and women in shaping our shared history.

"There is still some racism in the world and violence against Black lives. I would like the whole world to be equal and I don't know how that can happen. Maybe the first is respecting the lives of black people and a vote on how to eliminate racism globally [...] Martin Luther King marched for the rights of Black people in the 1960s yet, almost the same circumstances exist in 2020."

Roman-Christian, Year 8 pupil
Black History mural, Reading, UK

How can we learn about black history at home?

There are lots of things we can do outside of school to further our knowledge and understanding of black history. Here are a few:

  • Start a family history project: research your family history and find out more about your roots. The National Archives is a great place to start.
  • Visit local historical sites: this map features important historical sites for the history of people of colour in England.
  • Read books by black writers: stay tuned for our upcoming blog, with reading recommendations for each key stage!

"During our stay in Ghana we tried to deepen the knowledge of Black history, in particular the aspect related to the origin of the slave trade and its development in the country. We visited the Cape Coast and Elmina forts and other lesser-known forts from where slave ships headed for the Caribbean and the United States [...] It is important to know these events and it is important that today's kids know what happened in a past that appears painfully close"

Annalisa, Y11 parent

What are we doing at school?

In our school assemblies and house meetings this month, we’ll be exploring and discussing what Black History Month is and what it means in 2020. We’ll be exploring and celebrating black history, culture and the importance of understanding black history as not separate from, but fundamental to, the history of the UK and of the wider world. Most importantly, we’re inviting our pupils, families and teachers to discuss and share their own stories, perspectives, resources, artwork, and information as the focus of our school celebrations.

If you're a current pupil or parent, get in touch and share your artwork, resources, knowledge or stories!

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