Black history month: What’s the point?

This topic has been discussed for years and definitely polarizes opinion. First things first, it would be remiss to push for one side of the coin. For one, the changes in demographics in the U.S. and U.K black diasporas hint at peaking or declining populations. Significantly, as more people deepen their integration into the mainstream society, including marrying and procreating interracially, this will inevitably pose questions as to how relevant it will be in the coming years.

Black history month (BHM) in the UK was first celebrated in October 1987 and which coincided with the 150th anniversary of slavery emancipation in the British Caribbean, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity. In contrast, the U.S.’s was first celebrated between January and February 1970. Since this period, it has consistently featured critical periods in American history, such as MLK’s role in the Civil Rights, with the famous “I have a dream…” quote, and Malcolm X etc., and to a degree sidelines key events in Black British history. Mentioning to people the passing of the events leading to the passing of the race relations act of 1965, the Notting Hill racially-aggravated murder of Kelso Cochrane which foreshadowed the annual carnival, the Mangrove 9, British Black Panther movement, the UK’s reparation movement and so forth, will only resonant and be known by a handful of people. These events are worthy of reflection, in addition to the Windrush generation, their descendants and the critical contribution they’ve made to Black popular culture, and the wider society at large.

Given how diverse the African diaspora is in both the UK and U.S., some of the above simply will not be meaningful to some as it will be to others; more acutely in the case of those not interested in history. Nevertheless, one does themselves a disservice in not embracing such history. Consequently, historical tours, art and cultural galleries and viewings of documentaries etc., even for those who will be many generations far removed from it, worthy of partaking in. And for what it is worth, the proposal mooted in recent years to celebrate ‘multicultural history month’ (MCH) should not replace BHM. The mere suggestion is laughable.

The celebration of BHM is only part of a much wider historical story on both sides of the pond… just something to consider. 🙂