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Durham University

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Black History Month

Durham University is celebrating Black History Month with the rest of Britain this October. It is a great opportunity to recognise and appreciate the incredible achievements of our African and African Caribbean communities, including the rich heritage that they bring to our society. This also encourages us to reflect on our continuing efforts to promote inclusion and advance racial equality.

We have partnered with colleagues from Ustinov College, Library and Culture as well as the University’s BAME Network in organising a fantastic range of events open to all. This year’s theme is: “Commemorating the history and cultural heritage of our African and Caribbean communities.”

What is Black History Month and why is it celebrated

Held every October in Britain, Black History Month was first introduced in London in 1987 through the Greater London Council, as a means for offering a sense of history, achievement and continuity within the black community.

In the same year, the African Jubilee Year Declaration was launched which called on local and national government authorities to recognise African contributions to the cultural, economic and political life of London and the UK. The declaration also called upon boroughs to implement their duties under the Race Relations Act 1976 and to strengthen their support against apartheid by requiring authorities to support and continue the process of naming monuments, parks and buildings reflecting the contributions of historical and contemporary heroes of African descent, thus giving positive affirmation to children and young people identity and self-worth.

Over the years, hundreds of local and national events have been organised across the UK in commemoration of Black History Month. It has also evolved into a celebration of cultural diversity, and has significantly contributed in promoting inclusion in the UK.

Addai Addai-Sebo and Ansel Wong, who were both instrumental in organising Britain’s first Black History Month, sum up its overall purpose and significance:

“Our original goal was to first create an enabling cultural space in the UK celebratory calendar and after public acceptance and recognition extend the observance of October as a month to a Black History Season. To make Black History Season a celebration of the magnificence of cultural diversity and the enriching value in peaceful co-existence. To the African mind, to achieve harmony – both the black and white keys of the organ in tune.”