Today, Black History Month has loads of exciting events pop up around the country. From food festivals in London, to music workshops and lectures in schools; people from all ages can expand their knowledge of Black history.
“Black people are often given the double burden of experiencing racism and discrimination, and then being expected to fix it,” explains Catherine Ross, editor of the Black History Month magazine.
“Hopefully, by making the theme of this year’s Black History Month magazine and website Time for Change: Action Not Words’ we can come together to make a change for the better,” she says.
The original Black History Month was in the US, which Addai-Sebo learnt about when visiting in the 70s. The practice has become popular throughout Europe as well.
The second European country to officially celebrate a Black History Month was Germany. The occasion was first observed in Berlin in 1990.
Also celebrating Black History Month in October is the Republic of Ireland. First celebrated in Cork in 2010, the location was particularly apt given Cork was a leading hub of the abolition movement in the 19th century.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating Black Excellence: Looking Back to Shape the Future”.
In the Netherlands, Black History Month is also celebrated in October. It’s called Black Achievement Month and is used as a chance for highlighting Black culture.
Events across theatre, dance, readings, and cinema are organised to celebrate the Black community and their influence on Dutch culture.
Black Achievement Month isn’t just limited to the Netherlands, with events also taking place in Suriname, an independent state that was once part of the Netherlands, and Curaçao, a member of the country’s dependencies.
In Belgium, Black History Month is held in March. Started by the student association African Youth Organisation in 2017, the event has been organised by a non-profit 'Our Stories Uncensored' since 2019.
The month is spent with multiple events celebrating Black history across the cities of Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels, Schaerbeek, Vilvoorde, Mechelen and Limburg.
Improving the scene
Aside from some scattered events held informally in other countries, that’s pretty much it for Black History Months across Europe.
It’s a less than ideal situation given the contribution and presence of Black people throughout European culture and history.
This is a shame, considers Ojeaku Nwabuzo, Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Network Development at the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).
“The reason why Black History Month was initiated, was because of the institutional racism within the schools and within the curriculum, and the fact that either Black people's histories were omitted, or there was discriminatory racist stereotyping of Black people,” Nwabuzo says.
“That was done by the state. So it's really important that the state actually addresses that and supports it,” she adds.