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6 activities to celebrate Black History Month UK at school

Updated: Apr 21

There are lots of creative ways your school can recognise Black History Month UK beyond school assemblies and we've come up with a few ideas.

Graphic image of rectangle in which one half is a red back ground with a headline and mono logo of IBHM and campaign hashtag. Second half of graphic is composed of two B&W pics . Top pic of princess ademola dressed in 1940s attire looking out of a train. Second pic is an external shot of a castle.

Black History Month UK is an opportunity to ensure that all young people, no matter their background, learn about the contributions of Black Britons to UK History. As David Olusoga said:“this is our national story, this is British history, it belongs to all of us.”

1. Here's how your school can participate in this year's Black History Month UK

Take part in our Celebrating our Changemakers campaign by getting your classes to research and create a visual installation using the eight individuals from this year's campaign: Olaudah Equiano, Diane Abbott, Len Garrison, Stella Thomas, Henry Sylvester Williams, Marion Patrick Jones, Obi Egbuna and Connie Mark. For young children, you may want to look at Black Britons from time periods and we suggest you check out our Black to the Past and Before Windrush campaigns or inspiration. We’re encouraging all schools and colleges to send us a picture or video of your installations by tagging us on any of our social media sites.

2. Try our #BHMFamilies selfie challenge

Get your pupils to bring in a picture or item that reflects a family tradition and use this as a talking point to discuss the contributions of Black Britons to UK history and culture. You could explore cultural events such as the Notting Hill Carnival and why it started; explore how the British diet has changed over the years with the introduction of new foods like Jollof Rice and Jerk Chicken; and the British music scene by exploring new musical genres such as Lovers Rock, Jungle, and Grime.

3. Take part in our #BHMLandmarks challenge

You could organise a class trip to explore your locality to take a picture of statues and plaques that recognise the achievements of African and Caribbean heritage people in the UK. You can find information on the whereabouts of statues and plaques on the websites of Nubian Jak and the English Heritage or the Black London: History, Arts & Culture book. Post your pictures with the hashtag #bhmlandmarks and tag us on any of our social media accounts.

4. Virtually visit the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) and explore key events in British History

The Black Cultural Archives has lots of resources covering different time periods in British history including Black Abolitionists in Georgian London, Victorian Britons of African heritage whose work significantly impacted the arts, science and technology, and the Windrush generations who campaigned for legislative change that transformed the lives of all British migrants.

5. Turn your classroom into a living museum to celebrate the lives of past and living Black Britons

Have your students choose a notable Black British pioneer they'd like to know more about, such as Georgian writer Ignatius Sancho, Victorian circus owner Pablo Fanque, Henry VIII's trumpeteer John Blanke, or Dr Harold Moody who campaigned against racism in Edwardian Britain and provided free medical care to the poorer members of his local community before the establishment of NHS. Then using their research, have them create a living museum in your classroom. They can create posters and do presentations to show what they've learnt through their research. Our website is great way to start your research or you can review resources from the Black Curriculm, Young Historians Project, BCA, Museum of London, BBC bitesize, The National Archives and Yorkshire Museum.

6. Remember that UK Black History isn't confined to a month

At its core, Black History Month UK is about celebrating and recognising the contributions of Britons left out of mainstream UK history. We advise that you avoid emotive subjects like the Atlantic Slave Trade (perhaps tackle the topic during August when International Slavery Remembrance Day is marked) and focus on British rather than African American History during the month. We hope that you choose to participate in any of the activities we've suggested for your school to carry out during Black History Month UK. But do remember this month is also an opportunity for educators to start diversifying the curriculum for the rest of the academic year. Teachers can make sure that all disabilities, ethnicities and social classes are represented in reading materials and artwork in all subjects all year round.

Happy Black History Month UK!

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