Birmingham City Council

A brief background to Black History Month

Black History Month

The Origins of Black History Month

Black History Month was established in the United States of America by the Harvard educated African American scholar Dr Carter G Woodson. In the US, February has been recognised as black history month since 1926. It was thought that such a month was necessary in an effort to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of African Americans in keeping alive their heritage, traditions and histories.

Black History Month In England

In England, Black History Month is celebrated in the month of October. It was first celebrated in 1987. The introduction of Black History Month was facilitated by the former Greater London Council. The Council had selected October because the month coincided with the Marcus Garvey celebrations and London Jubilee. The first Black History Month celebrations formed part of the African Jubilee celebrations organised by the London's Race Equality Unit. From the London boroughs the interest in black history month soon spread to other cities like Bristol, Leeds, Manchester Nottingham and Birmingham.

In the UK, Black History Month has been used to highlight the histories and contributions of the 'Black' communities. There has been some debate as to whether or not Black History Month should be exclusive to those from the African Caribbean communities. However, in the UK, Black History Month celebrations have remained inclusive to all Black minority ethnic communities. Therefore the word 'black' is used in the generic sense.

Black History Month in Birmingham

The Birmingham City Council conducted a pilot for Black History Month in 1993 which was part of the 'Together in Birmingham Festival.' The potential of Black History Month as a major annual event in the city's calendar was not fully realised until its pilot re-introduction as part of the European Year Against Racism in 1997. Since then Birmingham Libraries have continued to play a key role in organising workshops, events and displays for Black History Month.

Some of the Black History Month events in the city have included:

  • Exhibitions displaying the work of Black artists and photographers
  • Poetry Reading
  • Talks on Black History

According to the City Council :

"The promotion of Black History Month in Birmingham recognises the vital and continuing contribution of Black communities to the City's past, present and future development. The City Council is determined that the rich, diverse histories and cultural traditions of all communities are kept alive and encouraged to grow."


Black History Month in Birmingham
Black History in Birmingham Libraries
Features on Black History in Birmingham Menu
Black History Collection