Black History Month Celebrates African Diaspora During October

By Tara Booth Published: 02 October 2008

An image of the Black History Month website, showing text explaining the cause with photographs beneath in boxes.

Black History Month features throughout the whole of October.

Important people and events in the history of the African Diaspora will be celebrated in the UK this October during the annual Black History Month.

Part of the aim of Black History Month is to recognise significant contributions to society made by people with African heritage, highlighting the achievements of the black community and demonstrating how all peoples contribute to a culture.

A range of events and activities relating to black history, education, arts and culture are taking place throughout the UK this month, including exhibitions, workshops and seminars.

With last year’s 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, and the hype surrounding Barrack Obama’s hope for Presidency in the U.S, this year will mark a significant boost in celebration.

A black and white drawing of six black boys huddled together, lying on the floor. They are each wearing necklaces and have white strips of fabric covering their waste. Their feet, legs, arms and torso are uncovered.

Sleeping Position Of Slaves In The Pack. © Historic Dockyard

BBC Radio 1Xtra will be celebrating black music icons over the last 50 years, looking at a decade each week and focussing on the music, politics and drama that defined that period of time.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has introduced Black History as a compulsory module for all secondary school history students alongside the two world wars and the holocaust in an attempt to further educate people.

The official guide to Black History Month features interviews and profiles of leading cultural icons, including the Obama family, Archbishop Tutu and MP Diane Abbot and can be picked up free from schools, libraries and venues across the UK.

Alternatively, download the PDF version here.

An image of four children huddled around a desk holding a silver cylinder. The two children on the right-hand-side are black, the other two are caucasian with dark hair. They are all smiling, and looking at the camera.

There are many activities and events suitable for children during Black History Month.

With many events and activities happening over the course of October, here are our top five favourites:

1) Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – various datesVisitor Centre, Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth. Tel: 023 9283 9766

The Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will open its doors to visitors eager to know more about the transatlantic slave trade and the Royal Navy’s role in putting an end to it.

‘Understanding slavery object handling sessions’, October 8, 2pm-3pmOctober 27 2pm-3pm

A number of original artefacts, including original neck irons, will be shown to the public . It is a unique opportunity to see many items not normally on display to the public.

‘Creating Rangoli star patterns for Diwali and Hindu New Year’October 29 11am-1pm, 2pm-3pm

Visitors will also be able to join in with the Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations by creating the Rangoli star patterns and star maps which links into Indian culture. These stars are said to welcome guests and good spirits into your home.

‘Lantern Procession’October 31, 4.30pm-6pm

Children will have the chance to make their own paper-cut lanterns in workshops taking place at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Gunwharf Quays during the October Half Term week. As part of the celebrations the Mary Rose Museum and Ship Hall and the Royal Naval Museum’s Victory Gallery will be offering a free, late-opening taster of their collections for those taking part in the procession.

2) Martin Luther King: Dream or Nightmare – October 12?Swiss Cottage Library, Barbican, London

A screening and discussion with Tony Warner about Martin Luther King. 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. The talk will examine the U.S situation and compare it to what’s happening to race relations in the UK.

3) Robert Maseko and the Sondela Queens – October 3 St Paul's Centre, Hills Road, Cambridge. Tel: 01223 511511. 6.30pm, £12 advance/£14 on the door.

Menelik Music presents an evening of African food, music, dance and more. Food is served at 7.30pm.

4) Fun Family Day at Sutton House – October 19Sutton House, Homerton High Street, Hackney, London. Tel: 020 8986 2264

Families are invited to hear magical stories and poetry by Diana Olutunmogun and poet Adisa. Adults and children are invited to dress in fantastic costumes, make their own smoothies with Caribbean flavours, play games and use clay to mould monstrous or magical creatures.

5) Black History High Street Event, Chelmsford – October 12Chelmsford High Street, 12pm–4pm. Tel: 01245 606811

A special showcase from black residents of Chelmsford and the local area, including specialist African and Caribbean food, arts and crafts, fashion and entertainment.