“Despite the significant role that Africa and its diaspora have played in the world civilisation since the beginning of time, the contribution of Africans and people of African origin has been omitted or distorted in most history books.
That is the reasoning behind Black History Month”.
These are the words of Black History Month website founder Mia Morris, and her intrinsic belief that “the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter” has focused a thoroughly post-colonial lens this month on the black past, present and future.
With its wider origins linking back to 1926 when Carter G Woodson launched Negro History Weekinthe US, Black History Month today is celebrated every October in Britain and February in the United States.
According to the Black History Month website, the main impetus behind the British movement lay within supplementary schools set up in the 1960s and 1970s by black parents who disagreed with their children being taught a Eurocentric version of history.
Today, Black History Month represents more than the dissatis- faction of an ethnic group towards the dominant cultures of western societies, and instead is about the celebration of difference and cross- cultural engagement.
Its aims are to circulate the various and widespread successes and contributions of black individuals and other ethnic minorities throughout the world, and according to the Black History Month website most local authorities now consider it “a mark of pride” to sponsor Black History Month events.
Brighton itself will be following this line as in October there will be a number of themed events taking place.
The University of Sussex Students’ Union (SU) are hosting many events including welcoming back award-winning alumnus, poet and playwright Dean Atta on 6 October.
Information about all USSU events during Black History Month can be found at www.sussexstudent. com/news.
However, some critics dislike the idea of black history being confined to a single month – famous black actor Morgan Freeman in 2005 told the US television show ‘60 Minutes’ that he believed the idea of a Black History Month to be ludicrous – “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
“I don’t want a Black History Month, black history is American history”.
In response, Mia Morris highlights that this is not an ideal world.
She said: “In an ideal world, the month would not be necessary because educational establishments and the national curriculum would fully recognise and appreciate the contribution of black people throughout history.
“The black community uses the month as an opportunity to demon- strate pride in its creativity, respect for its intellectual prowess, and a celebration of its cultural identity which is far too often misrepresented when it is not being ignored in the mainstream”.
Whilst Mia Morris herself supports the idea of black history being more than just one month in a year, she and others agree that in itself the celebratory month is useful.
For more information about Brighton and Hove Black History Month events, please see www.brightonblackhistorymonth.org.uk.