8 November 2021
Mrs Anna Housden, Head of History
To mark Black History Month in October, students in Woldingham’s History Society explored its origins and looked at how it has developed. First introduced in the United States at Kent State University in February 1969, Black History Month was formally recognised by President Gerald Ford in 1976. The first UK Black History Month was introduced in October 1987, aiming to challenge racism and publicise black British history. Now marked in October in the UK each year, Black History Month recognises and celebrates the achievements and contributions made by people of African and Caribbean backgrounds. History Society members shared and discussed ideas about why Black History Month was introduced earlier in the USA than the UK and considered the differences between the civil rights movements in each country.
Students also recognised Black History Month by presenting the results of their research on black figures from history, including Ignatius Sancho, an 18th Century composer and abolitionist; Lilian Bader, one of the first black women in the RAF; and Claudia Jones, a civil rights activist who helped organise civil rights marches in the 1960s, including the London March on Washington in August 1963 (in solidarity with Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, where King gave his momentous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech). More information about them and other figures can be found here.
The Society also discussed the importance of Black History Month, particularly in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. A common criticism is that areas of history should not be confined to one month but integrated into history the whole year round. The students concluded that, while we work to achieve this aim, history months are still important to provide a designated time to remember and celebrate forgotten people who have helped to shape history.