With October comes the leaves turning magnificent shades of auburn as they dance in the breeze, and the much-anticipated yearly festivities on Halloween night. However, this month we also celebrate Black History Month in the United Kingdom. 

Often, history lessons are packed to the brim with stories of white males and their contributions to our current society. However, we tend to overlook the contributions of the black community to our history, whose contributions are just as significant as anyone else’s. This is the purpose of Black History Month, to celebrate and recognize what black people have done for our world. 

Some good examples of leading black figures who have shaped our lives and fought for equal rights are Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X. These are some huge names which lead the civil rights movement in the USA in the 1950s and 60s. However, there are also many black British figures who have played a huge part in our lives, even though we may not realize it.  

Take, for example, Bernie Grant, who was part of the Labour party for Tottenham from 1987 all the way up to his death in 2000. Grant fought avidly for racial justice and equality and was one of the first African Caribbean MPs in the UK.  

Another great example of a leading black figure is the renowned, award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o has acted in a plethora of iconic 21st century movies, such as Us and Black Panther. She encouraged young girls to embrace their ‘black beauty’ in her speech upon receiving an award for her role in the film ‘12 Years a Slave’, which ties into the key ideas in the movie, which was about the slavery of African Americans in the 1800s.  

So, what are some ways we as individuals can celebrate Black History Month? An example of celebrating Black History Month is what Langley Park School for Girls has done. This secondary school has put sheets of paper around the school with the question ‘Why should we celebrate Black History Month?’, prompting and incentivizing students to really consider and appreciate the black community. I asked Shumaila Khalil, a resident in Bromley, why we should celebrate Black History Month, and she responded with ‘to not forget those who went and are going through harsh racism.’ 

This year, especially considering the rapid growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests, which were sparked by the murder of George Floyd by 4 police officers in the United States, people are starting to wake up to the injustices and discrimination towards black people that have always lingered - it’s only now in 2020 that these injustices have become more prominent. 

There is no question about it – black lives matter and have always mattered. Black lives are valued, appreciated and recognized, and that is what Black History Month is all about - highlighting black British presence.  

I want you to really think hard about what you are doing to celebrate Black History Month. I want you, from this moment forward, to think hard about your actions and their consequences. And most of all, I want you to think about how we are all from the human race, no matter what shade our skin is. Happy Black History Month.