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October in Britain is Black History Month

by Tony Kelly
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Tony Kelly resident Diabetes expert

On the 3rd October I had the privilege of being invited to a Black History Month (BHM) event  by Dawn Carr a  well-known Birmingham health activist who is also passionate about placing Black History in its proper context. It was held at Edgbaston community centre in Birmingham which was for me a new experience  having  never been there before. It is worth a visit.

Akyaaba Addai-Sebo from London gave an inspiring speech about how exactly this month designated to the historical achievements and struggles of Black people in Britain originated followed by a question-and-answer session.  He was one of the founders of BHM but instead of plagiarizing or regurgitating  what he said  which I  understand will eventually be posted on a social media channel, may I invite all the readers of  my  fortnightly column to click on the link below  and read an article published in the  British Guardian newspaper on the 27th September about the casual conversation he had at work in 1985 that has brought this month to prominence and significance for Black people. As the saying goes not many people know that and I too learnt so much of the origins and significance of why the month is given such prominence in the calendar and rightly so.  The article in question is a real eye-opener with some interesting facts and I would urge everyone to share it especially with young people on the gadgets that they use these days as knowledge is power.

There is so much truth in the proverbial saying ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ as here we are of whatever ethnic background either celebrating, honouring, embracing, promoting, reflecting or observing this month in whatever way we see fit.  There are too on various social media outlets mentions of several community Black History Month activities across the country and some are free. Please support them including the more progressive television channels and YouTube documentaries and discover the history which is often forgotten, not documented or historically neglected/ignored by the mainstream media.

I long to see the day when all aspects of Black History are routinely on the syllabus in British primary and secondary schools so that all students no matter what their ethnicity can learn exactly when Black people started to arrive in Britain and the contribution that they have made to its development over the centuries and not just decades.  I recall Stephanie Pitter of Birmingham who is really passionate about the importance of Black History on the school curriculum for all, leading a national campaign in 2017 which garnered thousands of signatures and presented it in person at No. 10 Downing Street. Yet the Government still does not view this as a priority and continues to ignore the wishes of the signatories of all ethnic groups to that powerfully worded petition.  A clear example of the people’s voices being ignored.

We are in the midst of celebrating Windrush 75, commemorating the seventy-five years since the ship bearing that name landed at Tilbury Docks in 1948, on the river Thames with the first set of passengers mainly from Jamaica and some from other Caribbean islands.  They heeded the ‘Your country needs you’ call to rebuild Britain after large parts especially London was demolished by the Germans in the second world war which ended in 1945.

However, as the lyrics of the song ‘The Half Has Never Been Told’ state, Emperor Septimius Severus, born 145 AD in present day Libya, as a Black man travelled to Britain in 208 AD  with his army of 50,000 men to be part of the fight for Hadrian’s Wall and in 209 AD invaded Caledonia (modern Scotland)  thus proving Black people have been in this country since time immemorial.  There is a well-known Jamaican saying learnt whilst growing up as a little boy which says ‘Yuh neva drop from sky’ so simply put Black people have been part of the fabric of Britain for a very long time and the history books need to adequately reflect that fact.

Some people argue that they struggle to see why a particular month should be set aside to acknowledge Black History in Britain and choose not to be part of it as they are of the view that every day is a celebration of their existence.  I understand the logic of the argument but beg to differ in that if what our fore-parents/forerunners did is not given the credence, respect and recognition it duly deserves how will the current and future generations learn of the past, which impacts the present and the future?

However, I would rather you spent more time reading about one of the founders of Britain’s Black History month so this article is being kept brief for that reason.  Hope you find it to be as inspiring as I certainly did.



Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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Anonymous October 10, 2023 - 12:07 am



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