What is Black History Month?

October is Black History Month in the UK - a month to highlight the achievements of the Black community, celebrate their contributions to the UK and learn about the important Black historical figures who helped make Britain what it is today. 

Origins 

The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to the 1920's in the United States of America where it was first celebrated as 'Negro History Week'.

The first Back History Month was celebrated in February 1970 in the USA and later in 1987 in the UK.

UK vs USA

Black History Month in the UK differs slightly from Black History Month in the US in a few ways, most noticeably the US celebrates it in a different month.

October vs February 

The US celebrates Black History Month in February as opposed to October because the birthdays of two important figures who played a huge part in the history of Black people in the US fall within this month.

  • Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States of America from 1861-65 and is famous for abolishing slavery in the country. 
  • Frederick Douglass was one of the most important abolitionists (those in favour of ending slavery) and a former slave himself who was committed to the equality of all peoples. 

The New York Times has an illustrated article detailing in-depth the events that led to the formation of Black History Month in the USA, and how the movement for celebrating Black History has grown over time.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who set up Black History Month in the UK, chose October because it falls in line with the start of the academic year and so would inspire the UK's young people who would be freshly back from the summer holidays.

The Communities Celebrated 

In the UK, Black History Month celebrates African, Caribbean and Asian communities whereas in the US they exclusively celebrate the achievements of African-Americans. 

What Young People Think

Check out our video below, with some of Young Scot's young volunteers talking about Black History Month including what it means to them, what they want it to achieve and more.

Learn More About Black Scottish & British History

Read about the Black British history you may not have been taught in school in this BBC article. 

Historian David Olusoga explains what he believes Black history is really about and how the UK has been shaped by it.

Contributors to BBC's The Social have made helpful and educational videos about being Black and Scottish, and how Scottish history has been shaped by Black people.

The video below was made by Laura Cripps and explains how Glasgow's streets still bear the mark of Scotland's links to the transatlantic slave trade.