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Outrage over councils' scrapping of Black History Month

CRITICAL: Historian David Olusoga

A NUMBER of councils have been criticised for scrapping their Black History Month activities and celebrations.

The achievements of black people in the UK are recognised as part of Black History Month, which begins on October 1 every year.

But some councils have been cutting funds towards Black History programmes and rebranding the initiative to celebrate people from different ethnic backgrounds.

Historian David Olusoga and Labour MP and shadow and equalities minister Dawn Butler are two prominent figures who have expressed their concern about the changes.

“I’ve been critical of Black History Month in the past, but I think it really is becoming a shared experience. We can have Black History Month with all people learning about it. Can black people not create things without being seen as exclusive? Black History Month feels to me really inclusive,” The Guardian reported Olusoga said.

Butler said: "One day I hope all our shared history is celebrated, taught and recognised equally all year round.

"But until then we will continue to mark Black History Month and fight for equality for all."

Butler also said that the Windrush scandal had highlighted the need for Black History Month.

In the Conservative borough Wandsworth, south London, the council has decided to forgo Black History Month in favour of a “Diversity Month”.

It is billed as an opportunity for “celebrating and learning together about the many and varied experiences and cultures within our borough”.

Some council’s are appearing to reject the trend of scrapping Black History Month.

Newham Council is celebrating Black History Month this year for the first time in more than 10 years.

The reinstating of cultural activities to celebrate black history have come with the appointment of new mayor Rokhsana Fiaz.

Fiaz said: “I’m really pleased that for the first time in many years, Newham Council will be celebrating Black History Month!

“It’ll be a chance for us to acknowledge the significant contributions, past and present, to our borough’s rich history of people like Frank Arthur Bailey, the first full time black firefighter in England who joined West Ham Fire Brigade in 1955 and served at Silvertown; or actor Idris Elba from East Ham; or gold medal winning Olympian Christine Ohuruogu from Stratford.

“There’s a plethora of amazing black talent that has emerged from Newham whose contributions are equally as important and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens during Black History Month through the range of talks and events taking place. We’re also asking how Black History Month can be “re-imagined” so that in future it features in what we do throughout the year.”

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