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Samuel Whitbread Academy

Black History Month - Why October?

When we think of Black History month in Britain it is still very common for us to celebrate the works of famous Black American Civil Rights activists like Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks. However, what we now need to focus on is the massive influence that Black people, activists and members of our community have had on our own country. In Britain we started celebrating Black History month in October in 1987. Influenced by the February Black History celebrations in the USA, Ghanaian-born Akyaaba Addai Sebo, a special projects officer at the Greater London Council founded the UK version of Black History month. This was a chance to recognise the important black contribution in this country.


Black History month is celebrated in October in the UK for both symbolic and pragmatic reasons. There are a number of symbolic reasons that have been given. Firstly, October is when African chiefs and leaders gather to settle their differences so this month was chosen to reconnect with black peoples’ roots on the continent. It was also first held in 1987, as it was the 150th anniversary of Caribbean emancipation. On a pragmatic level, it is also when most schools are back after the holidays and so Black History Month provides an early opportunity to study the significant contributions that those with black heritage have made to British life.


What is now argued, however, is that celebration of black history should be a permanent feature in schools’ curriculum. Samuel Whitbread Academy are doing just this. We celebrate the achievements of Black people in October, but are also working to embed this in our classes all year round.