Black History Month: An Introduction

Staff Sgt. Oliver Dagum, 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation technician, is recorded on a tablet while playing a song during the last spoken word performance at Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Feb. 11, 2014. Spoken word is an expression performance used to deliver strong messages, tell a story, or evoke emotion by form of poetry where the artist tries to make an impact with the audience. Black History Month is a celebration and recognition of achievements by black Americans in US history. Dagum is deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and is a native of Tulsa, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman George Goslin)

Black History Month (or BHM) is a month dedicated to remembering and celebrating the contributions and achievements of black people. Black History Month initially began in 1926, in the US, as ‘Negro History Week’ as part of the ‘Study of Negro Life and History’. It was started by Carter G. Woodson, a historian often referred to as the ‘father of black history, and Minister Jesse E. Moorland. However, it was students and educators at Kent State University that were the first to start celebrating Black History Month as we know it today. Black History Month was launched in the UK in 1987, following a campaign led by Akyaaba Addai Sebbo and is celebrated from October 1st – October 31st.

Since then, Black History Month has been used as a platform to not only reflect on what has come before, but to also think about the future and what action needs to be taken in the present day to shape a better tomorrow.

That is not to say Black History Month is not contentious. Some people refuse to participate on the grounds that black history is not something that should be confined to one month. Some have further argued that the existence of Black History Month has created a willingness to ignore black history in all other months, except October. These people are not wrong. In an ideal world, the type of history we are taught about will reflect and acknowledge the contributions of people who are not white. However, as this is not currently the case, it is important that we have a dedicated period of time where we are able to do this, in addition to fighting for those changes that will allow for a more diverse and liberated society.
Each year the SU marks this period with an incredible line up of events; this year is no different. Some upcoming events are:

• Black British History Walking Tour: October 5th, meeting at 1.30pm outside the SSH or at the Café Nero near St Pauls at 2pm
• Medical apartheid: European Experimentation on African Bodies: October 9th, 6.30pm in the Venue (Level -2 of the SSH)
• On blackness and queerness: a panel on queer black identity: October 12th, 5.30pm, 1st floor SSH
The full list of events can be found at

If you are a student of African or Caribbean descent and are looking to get involved, we still have spaces available to write for the annual black history month takeover of ‘The Beaver’. If you are interested, please email for further details. Otherwise, we wish you a happy black history month and hopefully we will see you at some events!

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