HISTORIANS AND politicians have come out in defence of preserving Black History Month after a number of councils across London have decided to rebrand it as ‘Diversity Month’ to include all cultures within local boroughs.
Originating in the US in 1926, Black History Month was introduced in the UK in October 1987 and spearheaded by Linda Bellos, leader of Lambeth Council at the time.
She said: “Black History Month provided an opportunity to show a history we knew existed but which had been hidden. Few of us – and by us, I mean British people of all ethnicities – knew much about the role our nation had played in colonising and absorbing some of these ‘native’ countries and cultures.
“I myself often had to say ‘we did not come to Britain for the weather’ when questioned, but it was very clear that most white British people did not know what positive contributions black people made, and continue to make, to the UK.” However, in recent years, some local authorities have come under intense criticism for their efforts to turn it into Diversity Month. Last year, the Conservative-led boroughs of Hillingdon, in west London, and Wandsworth, in south London, cast a wider net.
Hillingdon Council said: “Hillingdon has not participated in Black History Month for more than 10 years. The council constantly celebrates different aspects of our multicultural history and we do not restrict our activities to one month or any particular topic.” Among those who are concerned by such moves is the historian and author of Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation, Colin Grant.
Among those who are concerned by such moves is the historian and author of Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation, Colin Grant.
He told The Voice: “All cultures should be celebrated throughout the year. The difficulty is they will obscure the fundamental reasons for Black History Month by making it into some vague tribute.
“Black History Month also celebrates people who have been in opposition to the British government. It celebrates the spirit of revolt and rebellion and that must not be lost or defused in a vague attempt to assuage the past and pretend that we are now all in a celebratory mode.
“Black History Month needs to continue. I think there can be other months for other cultures – I wouldn’t want to deny anybody their stories, but…
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