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Celebrating Black History Month

Posted on 8/10/2020 by

Black History Month

October has kicked off Black History Month, a time to celebrate black history and communities in the workplace across all industries. We are delighted to be celebrating the work of people and organisations in the black community who have contributed to the non-profit sector, from historians, charity leaders to musicians.

A background

Black history month also called African-American History commemorates the history, achievements, and contributions of black people in the United States of America, and was established by Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States every year in the month of February since 1976.

Other countries across the world have devoted a month for celebrations, with the UK's events taking place in October. After visiting America in the 1970s, Ghanaian-born Akyaaba Addai Sebo, a special projects officer at the Greater London Council, founded the UK's version of Black History Month in 1987, where contributions made by black people to the cultural and economic development of the UK are celebrated.  This has increased in the UK,  with thousands of events taking place each year.

1st October 

Colleen Amos - The Amos Bursary

We are celebrating the work of Colleen Amos (OBE) for services to Community Cohesion, Co-founder, & Chief Executive of the Amos Bursary. This charity strives to promote excellence and shape the future of young men in the black community. The charity addresses current issues such as the unemployment rate for black male graduates aged 16-24. These issues are tackled through:

  • Recruiting high quality students and mentors
  • Offering personal and professional development programmes 
  • Peer and professional mentoring
  • Parental engagement
  • Networking 

 You can view the impact reports and find out more about the Amos Bursary here.

8th October 

David Olusoga

Today we are celebrating the work of David Olusoga, a historian, writer, filmmaker, and broadcaster.

Realising that black people were much less visible in the media and historically, Olusoga became a producer of history programmes after university. One of David’s notable works Black and British: A Forgotten History looks at the history of Black people in Great Britain and its colonies, starting with those who arrived as part of the Roman occupation, and relates that history to modern Black British identity. David has also written a children's book of the same name, telling stories to educate school pupils about the Roman, Victorian and 20th century Black British people. David explains more about his book here.

David was appointed an (OBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to history and to community integration. David has also been included in The Powerlist, a list of the 100 most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom.

You can find out more about David's work here.


15th October 

Malcolm John

Today we are celebrating the work of Malcolm John - founder of Action for Trustee Racial Diversity, Chair of the Young Harrow Foundation, Trustee of the Association of Chairs and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

The Action for Trustee Racial Diversity campaign aims to address barriers and provide practical solutions to the significant under-representation on charity trustee Boards of individuals from Black and Asian backgrounds. The campaign is volunteer-led, free of charge and has been supported by key organisations such as ACEVO, Association of Chairs, NCVO and the Small Charities Coalition.

Malcolm explains what caused him to start the campaign in this blog series posted by the Young Trustees movement, and further information on why this campaign is crucial is discussed here on the Action for Trustee Racial Diversity website.  


29th October 

Floella Benjamin

Today we are celebrating the work of Floella Benjamin – actress, presenter, broadcaster, and politician.

Floella was born in Trinidad but moved to Britain in 1960. Early in her career Floella appeared in several stage musicals, such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Mikado and is best known as presenter of children's programmes such as Play School, Play Away and Fast Forward.

In 1987 Floella started her own television production company and was commissioned by Channel 4 to make ‘Tree House’, from then the company went on to make several programmes, some filmed in countries like Cuba, Barbados Trinidad, and Jamaica.

One of Floella’s programmes ‘Coming to England’, was based on a book she wrote in 1995 about her life, and is about what it’s like to be different to come as a child from a different culture to a new country. This won a Royal Television Society Award in 2004, and is available to study and watch online via BBC Education.

Floella’s interest in education has also seen her on the ‘4Rs Commission’ established by the Liberal Democrats to look into primary education in the UK.

Floella is vice-president of NCH Action for Children and Barnardo's, and was in the NSPCC's Hall of Fame. She runs the London Marathon to raise funds for Barnardo's and the Sickle Cell Society. She was a cultural ambassador for the 2012 Summer Olympics. In September 2011, she participated in the Great North Run. She is a patron of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, having lost her mother to the disease in 2009.

Floella was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to broadcasting in the 2001 New Year Honours. In the 2020 Powerlist, Benjamin was listed in the top 100 of the most influential people in the UK of African/African-Caribbean descent in the UK, and appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to charity.

You can find out more about Floella’s life and work on her website.