The month of October marks Black History Month in the UK; a month that sees events take place all over the country in order to celebrate the heritage and culture of people with African and Caribbean descent.
How did it start?
With roots in the United States, Black History Month first saw movement in 1925. Following the lack of information available to the public regarding the accomplishments of Black people, historian Carter G. Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Just under a decade later, in 1926, the group declared the second week of February as ‘Negro History Week’, a week to recognise the contributions that African Americans have made to US History. At the time, few people studied Black history and it was rarely included in educational material prior to the creation of Negro History Week.
In the years that followed, many schools and leaders began recognising Negro History Week, which officially became Black History Month in 1976, when US President Ford extended to recognition to “honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.”
Since then, Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States every February.
In the UK, Black History Month was first marked in October 1987, as part of African Jubilee Year.
Why is Black History Month important?
Black History Month was created to bring to attention the contributions of African Americans to the US. The time is used to honour all Black people across all periods of American history; from the enslaved of the early 17th century, to African Americans living in the US today.
In the UK, Black History Month is a time to celebrate and understand the fundamental impact that people of African and Caribbean descent have had on British history.
How is Black History Month celebrated in the UK?
In the UK, Black History Month is intended to recognise the contribution and achievements of those with African and/or Caribbean heritage. The month also allows the opportunity for people to learn more about the effects of racism and how to challenge negative stereotypes.
When Black History Month first became recognised in the UK, there was a big focus on black American history. However, over time, there has been more attention on black British history and celebrating key black figures including Walter Tull, Malorie Blackman, Olive Morris, Dr Shirley Thompson and Lewis Hamilton to name a few.
All over the UK, there will be events throughout the month including comedy shows, art exhibitions, poetry recitals and talks.
Inspiring Black History sights to visit around the world
From museums to entertainment venues, monuments, parks and walking trails, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best places around the world to visit in order to learn more about Black history and to celebrate Black culture.
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Nelson Mandela Capture Site, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
One of the most prolific landmarks in Black History is the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, located in the KwaZulu-Natal area of South Africa. The site where Mandela was arrested is marked by a poignant sculpture that showcases the face of the renowned activist.
Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Zanzibar
The oldest part of Zanzibar City, Stone Town offers visitors a key glimpse into the history of Zanzibar and East Africa. What was once the capital of Zanzibar and the centre of the spice and slave trade both play a crucial role in the country’s history.
Banana Hill Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
Having opened in 2006, the Banana Hill Art Gallery has become a leading exhibition space for local artists. The gallery presents new exhibitions every fortnight, with all relating to African culture and landscapes.
Embark on the journey of a lifetime through Kenya when you travel with Trafalgar on the Wonders of Kenya tour.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, Ontario, Canada
Built on the site of a Canadian Settlement, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a museum and one of the oldest houses on the Dawn Settlement. The settlement was founded in 1841; the site now hosts an open air museum with exhibits including Henson’s house and the Underground Railroad Freedom Gallery which tells the story of how slaves escaped from the US to Canada on the Underground Railway.
St. Lawrence Hall, Toronto, Canada
Site of one of the most important meetings to ever have been held in North America, the ‘North American Convention of Coloured Freemen’, is in the St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto. The meeting was a turning point in the end of slavery around the world, as abolitionist leaders from Canada, the US and Britain gathered here in 1851 to discuss how to end slavery, and cemented Canada as a safe country for refuge.
US Civil Rights Trail, USA
Spanning over 100 locations across 15 states, the US Civil Rights Trail is the most comprehensive way to learn about the US civil rights movement. Some inclusions along the trail include the Martin Luther King National Historic Park, the Elizabeth Harden Gilmore House and the Hayti Heritage House.
California African American Museum, Los Angeles, USA
The California African American Museum has been recognised as the first African-American museum of art, history and culture to be fully supported by a state. The museum focuses on enrichment and education of African American cultural heritage and history, with emphasis on California and other Western states.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington DC, USA
The Nation’s capital, Washington DC is home to many monuments and historic figures around the National Mall, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The address of the memorial is 1964 Independence Avenue SW, which is a nod to the Civil Rights Act of 1964; a landmark legislation that King played an important role in. The centrepiece of the memorial is the 30-foot statue of Martin Luther King Jr, which focuses on quotes from his ‘I have a dream’ speech.
Museu Afro Brasil, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Holding around 6,000 items, the Museo Afro Brasil is an art, history and ethnography museum that focuses on the history and lives of black people in Brazil.
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Quinta do Mocho, Sacavem, Portugal
Quinta do Mocho is a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Lisbon, which is predominantly home to people of African descent. Having been built as a social housing project in the 1990s, the neighbourhood has been traditionally known as one of the poorest areas in Lisbon. However, in recent years, the area has gained notoriety as the home of Lisbon’s ‘open air gallery’, thanks to street art displays throughout the neighborhood. Throughout the area, buildings and walls are embellished with large portraits and artworks which depict the lives of people in the area, as well as their backgrounds and ancestors.
Black Cultural Archives, London, UK
Dedicated to preserving and celebrating the lives of African and Caribbean people in Britain, the Black Cultural Archives is the only centre of its kind in the UK. The Centre hosts a number of events and exhibitions throughout the year, covering topics such as Black women, specific time periods and historical figures.
Discover multicultural London on the London Explorer tour with Trafalgar.
Cafe Tournon, Paris, France
This Parisian cafe became a centrefold of Black history and culture as it played host to a salon for African-American writers and creatives for decades. Some notable figures who were regulars of the cafe include Richard Wright, Beauford Delaney, Chester Himes and Duke Ellington.
Interested in learning more about Black history and sights around the world? We’ve recently released a nine-day tour that follows the Civil Rights Trail right through America’s South. The Journey Along the Civil Rights Trail is currently available to book now.