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Black History Month

What is Black History Month? 

Now in its 35th year, Black History Month is celebrated in October. It is a time for us, as a nation, to celebrate the many contributions of black people to British society.  It also helps promote an understanding of black history in general. 

The origin of Black History Month goes back to the 1920s in the United States, and their celebration of Negro History Week. 

By the 1980s, it had been launched in London as a result of activism to tackle racism in British society and the Eurocentric version of history that was prevalent in schools. 

It is celebrated in October in the UK for a few reasons, some of these being:  

  • It’s close to the beginning of the academic year so students are not overly burdened with schoolwork (in theory!) 
  • October is a period of tolerance and reconciliation in Africa 
  • October coincides with the harvest period, and in Africa this is viewed as the period of plenty 

Why is Black History Month important? 

People with African and Caribbean heritage have long been an integral part of British history. However, some campaigners believe their contributions and importance is often overlooked. 

Black History Month gives everyone an opportunity to understand and share in the impact of their achievements. 

In recent times, more focus has been given to the importance of the Windrush generation and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Black History Month 2022 

The theme for Black History Month 2022 is Time for Change: Action Not Words. Its aim is to encourage people to take action when it comes to tackling racism- call it out; don’t stand for it. 

Lesson Ideas To Celebrate and Teach Black History Month 

  1. Use the books- 

 Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History or Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison.  

Students could pick and read about one of these great contributors detailed in the book. 

Activities following on from this could include: 

  • Poster displaying images and information about their contributor 
  • Diary entry from their contributor 
  • Letter to…someone their contributor might be writing to about something concerning them or something happening at that time 
  1. Using this resource and this,  learn about the Windrush generation, what they did for British society and how they were subsequently treated. 
  1. Read Floella Benjamin’s book, Coming to England. This book lends itself as a springboard to lots of drama and writing activities. 
  1. Learn more about Notting Hill Carnival and its context
  1. Talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. Use this Newsround article as a way to kick it off. Students could have a debate or write a piece of discursive writing around ‘Will the anti-racism protests lead to change in the United States?’ 
  1. Pupils could learn about the work of Black humanitarians on British society using this resource
  1. This resource from the BBC has a series of short videos which can be used to explore black history, heritage, culture and achievement. They come with questions and suggested activities which are cross-curricular. 
  1. At iXL Tutors we have a downloadable resource, which will take your students through Britain’s involvement in the slave trade and includes discussion questions and activities. 

There are some places you can visit and events you can attend around the UK where you can learn even more about black history: 

International Slavery Museum Liverpool 

Tilbury Docks Essex 

Brixton Markets London 

Black History Tour of the British Museum (16 Oct and 13th Nov) 

The Politics of Fabric and Fashion in Africa 1960, V&A (20 Oct) 

Sculpture trail, Bristol (until 31st Oct) 

The Leeds Black History Walk (22nd Oct)