Black History Month in the UK - Everyone and Everything Has a Story.
"Mary Prince. If like me, it’s your first time hearing of her, here’s a bit of information."
It has been said that everyone and everything has a story. Black history month is the amalgamation of the many stories of the many people that have made it possible for us to lead the (arguably) normal lives that we live today. I mean the system isn’t exactly perfect, but we can’t dispute it’s nowhere near as bad as it was in the past.
It has also been said that you gotta give credit where credit is due and there’s a lot of credit that has to be given to Ghana. Not only has Ghana blessed us with top notch eye candy: Idris Elba, Reggie Yates (they’re not fully Ghanaian but still counts) 👅 it has also blessed us with the legend, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo.
Who is Akyaaba Addai-Sebo I hear you ask? Well let’s just say if it wasn’t for Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, everyone from the UK would be celebrating BHM in February with the Americans. Fun fact of the day: Akyaaba Addai-Sebo is the Ghanaian man that implemented the idea of Black History Month in the UK in 1987. That’s an incredible three decades of change and awareness all thanks to one guy!
Sadly for Akyaaba, as the years go by, more and more people are questioning the significance of BHM. It comes and goes in schools hardly noticed, on a general scale it’s not as much of a ‘thing’ as it used to be. While some people still cherish the importance of it, others such as Morgan Freeman and the boroughs of Wandsworth and Hillingdon are challenging its value as they believe it should be abolished. Freeman thinks that it is ridiculous and that the only way to stop racism is to stop talking about race, that is, why count black history as it’s own thing when it’s a part of American History. The London councils feel that BHM should be a celebration of diversity as opposed to one ethnic group.
Those still in favour of Black History month, for example Mostly Lit podcast host- Raifa Rafiq, feel that October should be a time to celebrate the contributions of black people to British society and that it would be unfair to not give black people a mere month out of a whole year to acknowledge their achievements (full BBC article below). Nadine White, A Huffington Post writer (link below) shed some light on the place of BHM in the time of the Windrush situation, with some people arguing that the month has been overshadowed by the Windrush events and others expressing the intensified need to honour this month as a result of the incident.
Where do you guys stand in all of this?
Back to the stories thing though. If you used google a few days ago this month, you would’ve seen the doodle of a black woman in a white dress reading a book. I clicked the picture assuming it’d be someone I’ve heard about but an unfamiliar name came up. Mary Prince. If like me, it’s your first time hearing of her, here’s a bit of information. As well as being the first black female to get her autobiography/memoir about slavery published in the UK, Mary was also the first black woman to request changes from the British government regarding slavery in the British colonies. While it was declined by the government, a few years later the Slavery Abolition Act was enforced. Unfortunately, Mary wasn’t alive to witness this change, however her joint efforts along with other people, changed the lives of the generations succeeding her. She didn’t know what a big role she played in today’s society and it goes to show that although you may not immediately see the results of your efforts, your actions can make a difference and contribute to the overall change you want to see.
And last but definitely not least, we can’t end a black history month post without commemorating those who are no longer with us but have used their short time in this world to bring about equality. It also worth remembering those who have lost their lives as a result of injustice and those who are still suffering today.
Happy Black History Month! We’d love to hear about how you celebrate this month.