Black History Month is a really exciting time of year when we can celebrate and shine a light on the rich history and culture of Black people, in the UK and around the world, that may have previously been hidden. With so many conversations about and action towards decolonising the curriculum taking place in recent years, some might question why we still celebrate Black History Month…
Shouldn’t Black History have been recognised and repositioned by now as history, and given the space it deserves- nay requires- for the curriculum to be a true reflection of history? Of course! But this doesn’t have to mean that we can’t also dedicate time in our curriculum during the month of October to focus specifically on celebrating and learning about black history and culture that, for so many years, was side-lined, ignored and re-written.
As teachers, we’re constantly being pulled in multiple directions with our attention having to go to multiple different tasks, all of equal importance, all at once. As such, it can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on more well-known significant individuals and events from Black history, since they are what we’re most familiar with, the most confident in teaching about, and can be the most efficient to resource.
Here at Prospero Learning, we want to help you go beyond the stereotypes and expose your students to the lesser learned about individuals and events from Black British history. We have complied a list of exciting people, events and subjects that you could teach about during the month of October, as well as some resources and ideas of how to teach these across the curriculum. They’ll also be great all year round for when you’re looking to add in a new perspective to a unit or subject that you already teach.
Notting Hill Carnival
- The origins of carnival, from the Caribbean to the UK
- The original organisers of Notting Hill Carnival
- The art, costumes and music of Carnival
- The history of policing of and reporting on Carnival
- Claudia Jones
- Compare and contrast: carnivals around the world, citizenship- law and justice, power and influence, RE- religious and cultural celebrations and social justice.
- Who are the Windrush generation?
- What prompted some people to migrate from the Caribbean to the UK?
- How Windrush migrants were treated upon arrival The contribution of the Windrush generation to the society and culture of the UK.
- The songs sung on the Empire Windrush
- The Windrush Scandal
- Benjamin Zephaniah, Windrush Child
- Floella Benjamin, Coming to England
- Compare and contrast: migration into Britain from the Romans to the Vikings and the lasting legacies
British Civil Rights Movement
- The Battle of Cable Street, 1936
- Bristol Bus Boycotts
- The Mangrove Nine
- Bayard Rustin
- Olive Morris
- Compare and contrast with: Suffragettes, American Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, the music of revolution and struggle
Black History Month UK website:
Melody Triumph, Places: Important Sites in Black British History
Jamia Wilson, Young, Gifted and Black
David Olusoga, Black and British: A short essential history
Alison Hammond, Black in Time: The Most Awesome Black Britons From Yesterday To Today
As well as exploring the ideas and resources suggested here, we would highly recommend speaking to your students, prior to planning your Black History Month learning, to see what they would like to learn about during this month. We can’t think of a better way to get them excited and engaged in their own learning and would love to hear about the suggestions they come up with, so do please let us know in the comments!
If you’d like to read more about Black History Month, take a moment to read these scholarly articles from Nadena Doharty and LaGarrett King which seek to discuss the origins of Black History Month, how it is implemented and the teaching that happens at this time, and the impact that it can have on students.
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