BLOG: “Black history and British history is a shared story.”
As Black History Month draws to a close, Liverpool City Council’s Equality and Cohesion Officer, Eve-Marie Evans reflects on its importance…
Allocating October to recognise the contributions and achievements of black people is important. It provides a platform to showcase overlooked historical contributors and educates the whole community that Black and British history are interlinked. Hopefully, as society becomes more inclusive, and conscious of the contributions made to British History by black people, the need for a separate celebration may no longer be necessary.
Black History Month (BHM) was established to widen knowledge and understanding of the contribution black people have made to history. For the duration of this month, black history is made a focal point. Black cultural icons are celebrated, important events are remembered, and accomplishments are recognised. Through the emphasis on stories of black achievement and resilience, BHM provides an opportunity for society’s attention to focus on the aspects of black culture.
Black History Month helps to both inspire and build a sense of pride within Black communities. For a long time, black children were taught a history, of which those who shared their heritage, were largely absent.
The absence of representation can have a negative impact on the aspirations of future generations, depriving them of role models and examples of successful people who look like them. Black people were present in Tudor times, were abolitionists, worked in mills and factories during the Industrial Revolution, and fought in both World Wars. BHM informs black people of the important role they have played throughout history. It also helps to educate the wider community on the breadth of the black community’s presence in British history, something which is often overlooked.
BHM also has a role in the continuing fight for race equality and justice. During BHM, organisations often use this month as an opportunity to explore contemporary issues pertinent to race. Through various mediums, such as forums and debates, people can discuss and develop a better understanding of the ongoing issues that affect the black community. Through this BHM-inspired discourse, communities can further educate themselves on the ongoing fight to achieve race equality.
BHM provides a much-needed opportunity to celebrate the achievements, culture and history of those often overlooked, but its impact reaches much further. BHM empowers black communities through showcasing the historical achievements of those who share their heritage.
It provides the wider community with an opportunity to learn that black history and British history is a shared collective story. Significantly, it contributes to providing a more representative portrayal of the past, which should enable us to build a better future.
Eve-Marie Evans is an Equality and Cohesion Officer in our Safer and Stronger Communities Team, working on equality, inclusion and other strategic initiatives. She is also Director of Partners Credit Union.