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BLACK HISTORY MONTH (‘BHM’)
Written by James Nepaulsingh
BCCJ Executive Committee member and Senior Legal Counsel at a well-known Japanese trading company
Why does the UK have BHM?
To recognise and celebrate the history, achievements, and contributions of Black people to the social, political, economic, and cultural development of the UK.
Why is it relevant to the business community?
Research has shown that Black people:
- are under more scrutiny and judged far more harshly at the workplace;
- with Black sounding names are less likely to get an interview; and
- are paid less.
BHM is, in part, one way of changing the narrative, to amplify the achievements and stories of Black people so that they are uplifted and celebrated with the same value placed on others.
Shouldn’t it be all year round?
There are calls to include Black histories in school lessons all year round, not just in October. The aim is to improve social cohesion and reflect modern British identity.
What are the earliest records of Black people in the UK?
Septimus Severus was the first Roman emperor from Africa (Libya) and traveled to Britain in 208 AD to strengthen Hadrian’s Wall. The exact colour of his skin is unknown, but the Roman empire was culturally and ethnically diverse and there are records of an Ethiopian man meeting Septimus Severus on Hadrian’s Wall.
What is the earliest known image of a Black British person?
Where are the oldest Black communities in Britain?
Liverpool and Cardiff.
Why is BHM in October and not in February like the US?
October is traditionally the month when African chiefs and leaders gather to settle their differences, so the BHM founder (Ghanaian-born Akyaaba Addai-Sebo) chose the month to reconnect Black people to their roots. Akyaaba also wanted to give Black students a sense of pride and identity as they start their new academic year, so BHM coincides with the start of the academic year in the UK.
What is the theme of BHM 2023?
Celebrating our Sisters, Saluting our Sisters, and Honouring Matriarchs of Movements.
Further reading / Resources:
If you / your organisation would like to get in touch with the BCCJ / Diversity Equity & Inclusion Taskforce on how to be more involved with topics of interest or have suggestions for a chamber event, email [email protected]