top of page

What is Black History Month UK?

Updated: 7 days ago

Angela M (CEO of IBHM-UK) explains the origins of Black History Month UK and how to celebrate it.

Black History Month UK 2020

October 1st marks the start of Black History Month UK, observed since 1987, it is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African and Caribbean heritage peoples to UK culture and history.

What is Black History Month UK?

Black History Month UK was the brainchild of Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, a special projects officer at the Greater London Council. He wanted to boost the self-esteem of Black British children and young adults by educating them on the achievements of Black people living in the UK.

Taking inspiration from Black History Month (also known as African American History Month) in the United States. The first official event took place on 1st October 1987 at Country Hall.

It has since evolved into a national movement that is observed throughout the UK. It is also recognised in other parts of the world during October in Ireland and the Netherlands. In the US, where Black History Month originated, the awareness month is held in February. It is also celebrated in Canada during the month of February, where it was officially recognised in 1995.

Why is it celebrated at different times across the globe?

After visiting America in the 1970s, Addai-Sebo created a British version of Black History Month in 1987, but they are not officially linked.

In the United States, Black History Month takes place in February to coincide with the births of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Addai-Sebo choose to celebrate Black History Month UK in October because of the month's importance in the African calendar. More importantly, it was the start of the British academic year.

Why do we celebrate Black History Month UK 2020?

Did you know that there has been a Black presence in the UK since Roman Times? Or that there were Black Tudors, Stuarts and Georgians? Black History Month is our chance to celebrate these unsung heroes of Black British history whose contributions have for too long been ignored and forgotten.

Black History Month provides you with the chance to find out more about Black Britain’s rich and varied long history dating back to antiquity times. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Britons who helped to shape the country amongst the Black British community and the widen UK population.