Prime Minister Theresa May has marked the 30 anniversary of Black History Month, saying “Black history is British history.”
Black History Month is an annual observance in the United States, Canada and the UK for the remembrance of important men and women and events in the history of the African diaspora.
Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 1987. It was set up and organised by Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who then served as a coordinator of projects for the Greater London Council and created a collaboration to get it underway. It was first celebrated in London and has become a national institution ever since.
Speaking today at Downing Street, May said, “Black history is British history and the history of our country is the history of all our people, of every ethnicity.”
“Black History Month also provides us with an opportunity each year to celebrate the success of Black British people in every walk of life.”
“And there is so much to celebrate.”
“People of African and African-Caribbean heritage make an invaluable contribution to our life in the UK.”
“From leading figures in the arts and culture, in sport and academia, business and public service black Britons make our country a better place.”
“But it’s not just the most prominent people – the contribution of Black British people in communities right across the UK in our NHS and schools, running or working for a small business, volunteering in their communities help to make twenty-first century Britain the strong and diverse country we are today.”
She continued, “But while there is much to celebrate, there is also even greater potential which is going untapped.”
“Because despite all the progress which we rightly celebrate, we know we still have a long way to go not just to root out hatred and prejudice from our society, but to tackle the injustices that still hold people back.”
May went on to outline the work that her government has done so far, including an audit of public services to analyse how a person’s ethnicity affects their experience in public services; providing targets employment support in ‘hotspot’ areas with big BAME employment gaps; and taking forward a number of recommendations from the Lammy Review.
Concluding her speech, she said, “Black History Month encourages us to look back and learn from the past to look around us and understand the present and to look forward to shape the future.”
“To inspire the next generation to make our country and our world an even better place.”
“Together, working together in the future, let’s make a difference.”