Why Black History Month is still relevant?

By Charmaine Simpson, November 2011. 

Every year as we approach October, the debate question is dusted off and we ask ‘is Black History Month still relevant?.’ I will read the magazine articles and   listen to the debates and radio shows on the subject and wonder why are we still debating this question?

When we started Black History Studies nearly five years ago, we saw that there is a need to celebrate Black History throughout the year and not to wait until someone in the Department of Education decides to put Black History on the National Curriculum.

Black History Studies believe that Black History Month is still relevant, because sadly, this is the only time for some people in the community to start to learn or show an interest in their history and heritage. It seems like people only realise that we have a rich history in October and then forget about this rich history come November 1st and will not look at our history and heritage until the next Black History Month.

At Black History Studies we deliver events and courses throughout the year, not only covering Black History, but also Black Studies. We would love to see more people in our community make more of an effort to educate themselves and their family by taking a serious interest in Black History and Black Studies all year round and not wait until the month of October to do this.

Black History Month is our busiest time of the year. We have supported local authorities who have had their budgets slashed and or have no budgets to put on events and keep the Black History Month on the agenda. I commend the people in the local authorities who have fought to keep Black History Month alive even though they are under tremendous pressure from others who do not see the importance of celebrating Black History Month. However, when you speak to the organisers, they are finding it harder to justify putting on these events, because people don’t regularly attend.

If it was a Holocaust Remembrance or a Diwali event, the room would be full. So we are asking our community, how many Black History Month events did you attend in October? If your reason for not attending was you did not like the programme, did you write in to suggest alternative events, or offer your services to help organise events for the following year? There is a well known phrase that says ‘You never miss the water until the well runs dry’. My final question is; are we going to wait for Black History Month to be cut completely before we take an interest?