The reason the event was created in the first place was to correct the deliberate destruction done to African memories by European mis-representation.
With present technology, it should be easy to correct the massive mis-information about African history; but the new media also supplies massive distractions on a 24-hour-in-your-hand basis.
So, what are we are doing to repair the damage? Firstly, we run black history events all year long and not just in October.
Our guided history walks take place in seven different parts of London and within four museums. University students from USA, Sweden, France, Brazil and local schools increasingly patronise the tours. Recently large firms like PwC, Norton Rose Fulbright and the Red Cross have discovered that walking tours are a great way to learn while socialising.
Apart from walks our regular monthly film shows have been going for ten years. African Odysseys at the BFI Southbank is the only programme in the entire country to showcase African/Caribbean films every month of the year. Not only do we screen rare films but we ensure Q&A with experts. The films selected are not shown anywhere else and give black directors/producers a chance to showcase under-viewed works like Toussaint, Besouro, Warrior Queen Nzingha and The Price of Memory, Hollywood has a massive attraction for young people but the seduction is often at the cost of education due to the liberties taken with history.. that’s why we have our Movie Breakdowns. Using film clips and commentary we separate fact and fiction in films like Planet of the Apes, Exodus Gods and Kings, Black Panther and the X Men.
Acting on the perverse statistic that out of 18,500 UK professors only 85 are black and of those just 17 are women; we set up the Queen Nzingha lecture series. The lectures feature black women, who have expert knowledge, speaking on various topics.
This self-funded grassroots initiative has produced over 30 lectures including: Who stole all the black women from Britain by Emma Dabiri, Life as a Black Female Academic by Dr Ama Biney, and African Hair before Bondage by Professor Lori Tharp.
Our regular history talks continue to inspire. Topics like How Jamaicans ended slavery with Paul Crooks recently pulled in 400 people at the University of Westminster.
We have just added taught courses to our repertoire. The Amazing James Baldwin 5-week course sold out twice at Black Cultural Archives and twice at New Beacon books. With demand coming from all over the country we will soon be going online. With this kind of activity in another 30 years there maybe be no need for black history month at all…maybe.
Tony Warner is the Director of Black History Walks, they provide monthly talks, films and educational walking tours on Londons’ 2000 years of African history