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Advice Line: why does Black History Month matter?

Why does Black History Month matter? Myless Mwanza finds out.

There’s months and weeks and days for everything now. There’s World Smile Day, Reptile Awareness Week and Novel Writing Month. Do we still need Black History Month or should it be ... history?
 
Black History Month was first developed in the United States as ‘Negro History Week. It encouraged schools to teach about the overlooked contribution of black individuals throughout American history.
 
Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 1987 and has developed into a nationwide celebration of black history, culture and arts during the month of October. The 2016 programme has hundreds of listings covering the whole country and encompassing literature, photography, music and school events. In the US it has seen the unveiling of the Museum of Africa American Culture and History.
 
When October rolls around there’s always a debate about whether we need Black History Month. Some detractors claim that it’s racist, others say that it allows us to forget about black history for the other eleven months of the year.
 
Having a month set aside to focus on black history does not detract from white history, it doesn’t devalue the achievement and contributions of white people in history. It’s fair to say that the achievements of white people, men in particular, are well documented throughout history compared with black, Asian and Hispanic figures.
 
I’ll be the first to cheer when we don’t need Black History Month. When the contributions of black politicians, inventors and activists are firmly in the history books on a par with their white counterparts. When black history, art and culture is equally prominent as true equality has been achieved. 
 
Until then it’s positive to see such an amazing array of talent and new voices coming together this year. Black History Month is not just for people of colour, the richness and diversity of our society enhances all of our lives – have a look at the website and get involved!
 
  • Myless Mwanza is a member of the CSP BME network. 
To join the network visit our website here
 

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Article Information

Author(s)

Myless Mwanza

Issue date

19 October 2016

Volume number

22

Issue number

18

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