Black History Month (BHM) has become established since its introduction in Britain 30 years ago. Prime Minister Theresa May held a BHM event in 10 Downing Street, whilst London Mayor Sadiq Khan marked the end of the Month with a BHM event at City Hall on October 31.
However this Saturday, in the spirit of ‘sankofa’, London community history group African Histories Revisited is convening
the African History Month UK Network Conference, which aims to focus on the basics of BHM (now known as (AHM) African History Month).
In addition to highlighting the fact that some organise African History events all year round, the conference will show how AHM came about, the principles of the African Jubilee Year Declaration, which several statutory bodies signed off as part of the introduction of AHM in 1987.
The audience, which include some of the people involved in introducing AHM and those who currently deliver African history programmes all year round, will be treated to presentations, videos, history-facing music, and the evening will end with a discussion entitled ‘From Black History Month To African History Month 30 Years On…’
The Month’s focus and terminology will be key subjects, in light of the fact that whilst AHM is growing in stature, mixed messages are given by people providing messages of support.
Take for example the messages from politicians published in blackhistorymonth.org.uk’s 2018 BHM magazine. It’s May and Khan who use the correct terminology by making reference to “African and African-Caribbean” communities in their messages.
Surprisingly Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is evidently clued-up on history – check ‘Do You Need Jeremy Corbyn To Tell You About The Importance Of African History?’ video posted at www.bitly.com/JConAfricanHistory) – incorrectly refers to “Black and Asian communities”. Whilst Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant uses the unfortunate American import “people of colour”, and Lib-Dem leader Sir Vince Cable talks about “BAME diaspora”.
30 years on, surely we must all now know that AHM was predicated on the adoption of the African Jubilee Year Declaration. This document provides opportunity to highlight global African contributions to Britain and beyond.
Recently, Sir Vince argued for a more inclusive and diverse school history curriculum highlighting the inspirational stories of “Black historical figures” to help tackle prejudice and discrimination. Also, the United Nation’s IDPAD (International Decade for People of African Descent) initiative recognises the need for African history education, as part of combating prejudice and racial discrimination.
The importance of history is not lost on our political leaders. Once asked what young people should study, Corbyn was unequivocal in suggesting history, before going on to explain Britain’s imperialist past. And to paraphrase what the Prime Minister said at her recent BHM event: “African history is British history and the history of our country is the history of all our people, of every ethnicity.
“African History Month also provides us with an opportunity each year to celebrate the success of African British people in every walk of life.”
At the conference, history specialists and organisations will highlight African history programmes that go beyond October. The African History Month UK Network Conference takes place November 18, 12.30-4.30pm at Unite The Union, 128 Theobalds Road, Holborn, London WC1X 8TN. To book: www.AfricanHistoryPlus.eventbrite.com.