Black History Month is an annual celebration that started in the US in 1926, later took on by other nations like the UK. The historian Carter G Woodson conceived it by proposing marking a time to honour African Americans and raise awareness of black history.
Black History Month in the US
The US chose the month of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln. He was the US president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. However, Other countries celebrate Black History Month in October, including the Netherlands, Ireland, and the UK.
Why is Black History Month Celebrated in October in the UK?
October marks Black History Month in the UK every year since 1987 to celebrate the achievements of Black Britons. There are two reasons thought to be behind why Black History Month is celebrated in October in the UK.
Traditionally, October is when African chiefs and leaders gather to settle their differences. So, Akyaaba chose this month to reconnect with black people’s roots in the continent.
Additionally, as the beginning of the new academic year, October would give black children a sense of pride and identity.
It is an opportunity to reflect upon British history, from the pain of slavery and colonisation to the resilience and hope of the Windrush generation, while showcasing the work of today’s Black British creatives.
Theme for Black History Month UK 2022
The national theme for Black History Month in the UK in 2022 is ‘Time for Change: Actions Not Words’. This is a powerful message as in the words of Catherine Ross, the Black History Month magazine editor:
Black people are often given the double burden of experiencing racism and discrimination, and then being expected to fix it. Hopefully, by making the theme of this year’s Black History Month magazine and website Time for Change: Action Not Words’ we can come together to make a change for the better.
Black History Month Events Happening in the UK in 2022
Black History Month means different things to everyone, therefore pride in this month is expressed in different ways. There will be celebrations and events, from food festivals to music workshops to educational seminars and lectures, taking up and down the country, like:
Boy Blue’s hip-hop, Manchester
Boy Blue’s expressive theatrical performances featuring hip-hop from the streets and clubs, and exploring themes of identity and oppression, with energetic dance performances in Manchester.
Black ballet, Durham
Ballet Black will celebrate its 20th anniversary with two new works at Durham’s Gala Theatre and Cinema
The Leeds Black History Walk
This guided public walk in Leeds will be a chance to discover lesser-known stories about the African presence in Leeds, going back as far as Roman Yorkshire.
Sculpture trail, Bristol
The World Reimagined’s trail of 10 globe sculptures around the city addreses themes of displacement, identity, and racial justice. The trail starts in Royal Fort Gardens and finishes in Broadmead.
Various events, Leicester
It is hard to choose just one event in Leicester, with Serendipity, the Institute for Black Arts and Heritage, coordinating a rich, month-long programme of trailblazing artists and activists from the African and Caribbean diaspora, featuring film, theatre, dance, lectures and exhibitions.
Highlights include a performance by Mercury prize nominee Soweto Kinch on 12 October at Leicester Jazz House and Black is the Colour of My Voice, a play inspired by and featuring the music of Nina Simone, on 17 and 18 October at the Curve theatre.