This month, we’ve had a European MP in the House of Commons speaking up for the need for Black History Month (which will now be referred to as African History Month(AHM)). In the same House sits an African MP and member of the Conservative government, whose views on AHM and African/Black history chimes with the anti-woke voices that wish to promote a mono-culture British history as the only one allowed, particularly in schools and institutions that receive public funds.
This month also started with several “Happy Black History Month” tweets. Not unsurprisingly, I tweeted for “a happy and productive African History Month/Season”. That’s because many community history practitioners do not only deliver African history programmes, but we do so in and out of the Month, which one or two organisations have begun doing – like University of Westminster’s Black History Year.
Wearing my BTWSC/African Histories Revisited hat, our Season’s programme – Monday Xtra History Sessions – begun last month and the mainly weekly Monday, 6-9pm (UK) Zoom events end on December 20 with UK African Women Self-Organising, when we big up the women activists and their organisations as a way of commemorating the greatest British African activist, Claudia Jones.
Exactly a year ago, Dr E. James West published an article entitled The Radical and Transnational Roots of Black History Month in Britain on Black Perspectives, which I’ve managed to publish here with kind permission of African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). This does a good job giving the backstory to today’s AHM celebrations.
Of course, the subject has been of particular interest to me for quite a while. I’ve had the pleasure of not only researching the primary sources, and interviewing some of the key players in bringing AHM to the UK, but I’ve also had the pleasure of delivering programmes to expose the backstory.
The first event was 25 Years On…, which took place in 2021 at Harrow Civic Centre. It commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of AHM. In 2017, we organised the Commemorating African Jubilee Year 1987-88 @ 30 event at London’s City Hall. And in 2019, I delivered The History Of Black History Month In Britain in a library in the south London borough of Wandsworth, which is where Akyaaba Addai-Sebo lived when he conceived in 1985 what eventually became AHM.
Sadly, not only is this backstory little-known, much of the attempt to tell it, mistakenly state that AHM (or Black History Month) was launched by the GLC (Greater London Council). That prevalent ahistorical narrative is wrong on at least two fundamental counts. That’s the reason why we’ll be revisiting the topic with the The True History Of African/Black History Month In The UK event on Nov. 29. After we’ve cleared up the misinformation, we’ll follow up on Dec. 6 with African History In Britain: Those Who Built The Foundation.
We top and tail these two events with Marking The Centenary Of 1921 Pan-African Congress In London on Nov. 22 and The Men With Ships And Preaching Back To Africa Before Marcus Garvey on Dec. 6, which provide a more global African perspective.
Finally, you will find posted on this website a number of articles that speak to AHM:
You would be interested to know that Linda Bellos, who was one of the proponents of AHM UK, says in her The History of Black History Month article that: “If I were in the same position again to start Black History Month I would call it African History Month not black…”
African History Month Discussion Paper 2 is a paper by Linda Bellos, which also speaks to identity terminology – a subject we cover on Oct. 11 entitled Interrogating Language 4: Identity, Decolonising, Reparations; Araning & Pan-Africanism….
African History Month Discussion Paper 1 updates US-based African history and identity activist Sabamya Jaugu‘s African History Month discussion papers, originally published on his now defunct africanhistorymonth.com and africanmanifesto.com websites.
African History Month Discussion Paper 3 is by BHM UK conceiver Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. Parts of this paper were read out by Addai-Sebo’s former Greater London Council and London Strategic Policy Unit race unit boss and BHM UK supporter Ansel Wong during his presentation at the BlackHistoryMonth.org.uk/Sugar Media organised BHM UK @ 30 reception at the House Of Lords on Oct. 23 2017. This paper was supposed to be presented at the African History Month UK Network Conference, which took place on Nov. 18 2017 at Unite The Union HQ. This version has links to resources suggested by Addai-Sebo to enhance the presentation.
African History Month Discussion Paper 4 is a 2014 article by African American journalist and bluesologist Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali, which brings a north American and socio-political context to the African or Black History Month debate in a post-President Robert Mugabe era.