With mainly culturally focused programmes of singing and dancing now dominating many BHM events, it seems the reason for introducing BHM has been lost.
Whilst some of the content may be suspect,and support may be waning from some quarters, BHM is now ubiquitous and is increasingly taking place not just within the designated month of October, but also beyond.
Some are now calling it African History Month (AHM), in a bid to bring it in line with its raison d’etre. The organisers will draw attention to how BHM came about: set up 25 years ago by Greater London Council (GLC) successor and affiliated organisations, and progressive London boroughs, BHM was meant to bring global African history and contributions at home and abroad into mainstream awareness, in addition to advocating an anti-racist and anti-apartheid agenda.
Its introduction in 1987 and subsequent adoption by mainly London councils, was predicated upon signing up to the African Jubilee Declaration, which included recommendations for activities that recognised the contribution of Africans to the economic, cultural and political life of London and the UK. The Declaration drew its strength from sections of the 1976 Race Relations Act, which enjoined statutory bodies to “promote race equality, equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups”.
Contributing via video to 25 Years On… will be Addai Sebo, recognised as the person who introduced BHM. On the panel will be his then boss at the London Strategic Policy Unit, Ansel Wong, plus special guests, including former Tottenham councillor Narendra Makenji, who helped champion BHM across London.
The second half of the event focuses on the behind the scenes work that resulted in the selection and eventual election of the four Asian and African British MPs in 1987. The panel includes Marc Wadsworth, former chair and campaign organiser of the Labour Party’s Black Sections, whose work also led to the selection of numerous African and Asian councillors across the country.
The free event takes place on October 30, 6-9pm in the Council Chamber at Harrow Civic Centre. It’s organised by WHEAT MST in association with Akoben Awards and chaired by history consultant and Akoben Awards co-ordinator Kwaku.
For more information or to book: www.25YearsOn.eventbrite.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.