Black History Month

Black history month is an important event in our calendar. It aims to celebrate the lives, contributions and events of African Americans in the United States (NatGeoKids). 

But how did it start? And why do we celebrate it in the UK? 

Black History dates back to the early 1900’s. It was created due to the lack of public information about Black people and events. In 1926 the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History was founded by historian Carter G. Woodson. The group declared the second week of February as “Negro History Week”. The second week in February is important as it includes the birthdays of Frederick Douglas (an abolitionist) and former U.S president Abraham Lincoln (BBC). These men both played an important role in trying to abolish slavery. 

In 1976 it became known as Black history month (BHM)

BHM was first recognised in the UK in 1987 (Wiki).  In the UK, we do not just recognise the achievements of African Americans, we celebrate all contributions and achievements made by those with African or Caribbean heritage. 

Why should we learn this?

History is important to learn for many reasons.  

  • We can learn from it - what was good and what was not. What should or should not be repeated. 
  • It can inspire us - learning from those who stood up to make a difference. Learning how people changed the minds of others to improve the lives of others.  

What can you do?

Use knowledge to inspire yourself and others to improve the lives of others, whatever their heritage. 

Notable figures from the US:  

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - fought for equal rights 1950s & 60s 
  • Rosa Parks - activist best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott 
  • Thurgood Marshall - first African-American justice appointed to the US Supreme Court 
  • Mae Jemson - first female astronaut to travel to space in 1992 
  • Barack Obama - first African-American president 2008 


Key figures in the UK: 

  • Walter Tull - first black officer to command white troops in the British Army and one of the first Black English football players 
  • Malorie Blackman - bestselling author 
  • Olive Morris - social activist who co-founded Brixton Black Women’s Group 
  • Dr Shirley Thompson - first woman in Europe to conduct and compose a symphony 
  • Lewis Hamilton - the only Black F1 driver 



BBC. 2021. Black History Month: What is it and why does it matter? 

 National Geographic Kids. 2021. Black History Month. 

 Wikipedia. 2021. Black History Month. 


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