BHM Themes

Black History Month each year comprises of different themes, which relate to national events of importance connected to Black History.

Detailed below are the themes for BHM years:

October 1998:

BHM events focus on Windrush story.

October 1999:

BHM celebrates its 12th anniversary in the UK and it’s 10th in the East Midlands.

October 2000:

BHM celebrates its 13th anniversary in the UK and its 11th in the East Midlands.

October 2001:

BHM events aim to exhibit and celebrate the contributions made by Black people in the areas of Science, medicine, the arts, the economy and agriculture.

October 2002:

BHM events celebrate the achievements and remember the tribulations of the last five hundred years dominated by Slavery, colonialism and the experience of Apartheid in Southern Afrika.

The events that punctuate the season are mostly designed to raise awareness of the community at large as to how historical events shaped the present social, political and economic world order. It is a time when major contributions in the fields of science and technology, the Arts and other areas of import made by people of Afrikan descent are marked by plays, poems, songs and other forms of artistic expression.

The educational element is a major aspect of the season. Seminars, workshops and lectures play a vital role in promoting the vibrant and continuing influence of Afrika and Afrikans on the world stage.

When taking into consideration the ancient and influential developments of civilised activity in the Nile valley and other areas in Afrika, this cannot be emphasised enough, in order that the respect and appreciation of such contributions to our present existence can be realised.

Wolde Selassie, Chair

Leicester Afrikan Caribbean Arts Forum Consortium

October 2003:

BHM events focus on Afrikan History, which is one of the most neglected areas of academic study and Afrikan world civilisation.

We are not talking about the history of Europeans in Afrika or the Arabic presence in North Afrika, what we are dealing with are the contributions made to world civilisation and the achievements of Afrikan people and their descendants during the last 500 years. In spite of the transatlantic slave trade and the colonial legacy, Afrikans have made great strides in scientific, social, political and other spheres of influence.

For those who are studying the sciences, including the origins of man, the structure of the universe and information technology, it must be borne in mind that the ancient Afrikan civilisations of Kemet (Egypt), Nubia and other centres of high culture laid the foundations for the above in stone. These civilisations recorded their view of the universe on temple walls and on papyrus scrolls, which can still be found in museums worldwide.

This year’s theme “Are We Warriers?” is a fitting tribute to those in the last century who publicised and proclaimed the greatness of the Afrikan world civilisation, and to those before that time whose foresight and ingenuity has allowed us to realise our worth in this millennium.

Wolde Selassie

Chair of LACAF Consortium & Black History Consortium member

October 2004:

BHM events focus on the theme, ‘Liberation’ suggesting an escape from confinement. A focus on slavery and colonisation, which was in place until the early 1990’s when South Africa achieved independence and we moved into post-colonial imperialism. Liberation, which means in some part to be free from poverty, ignorance, social injustice, alienation and feelings of inferiority. Quest for liberation has been typified by the work of Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Claudia Jones and a host of other activists. The events of this month were organised to reflect on the struggles that have brought us this far and also to celebrate Black history’s achievements past and present.

October 2005:

BHM took the theme of ‘New Beginnings’ and along with the traditional programme of Afrocentric experiences, other events have been inspired by the notation of a dawning of a new era, rejuvenation and enrichment.

October 2006:

BHM theme for this year is the celebration of Black women. Over the years, the city has welcomed people from all around the world, including the Caribbean and Africa. Many of these have been women who have gone on to make significant contributions to the social, political, economic and cultural achievements of the city. Women such as Iris Lightfoote who, since taking over as head of the Leicester Racial Equality Council, have worked tirelessly to make the organisation what it is today. Jawaahir Daahir who, though new to Leicester, has worked hard to build relationships between the Somalian community and the more established communities in Leicester. There are thousands of Black women who work selflessly for the city and its future, often without any recognition.

Globally, Black women continue to contribute in every area of life. For example, Condoleezza Rice is the first Black Secretary of State, Kelly Holmes the first Briton for 84 years to achieve the Olympic middle-distance double and Baroness Scotland the first Black female QC (Queens Counsel) and the first Black female British government minister. And let’s not forget the inspirational Rosa Parks, a women who took a stand in Alabama USA in 1955 and courageously changed a nation.

The energy of Black women is changing the face of this city and the world.

October 2007: Souls of Black folk. Black History Season 2007 marks the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire. This is a very significant milestone in the reconstruction of the Afrikan experience during the trans Atlantic slave trade.

Much has been said about the process of abolition and emancipation. These writings from a Eurocentric point of view glamorises the European perspective of that history, placating their Christian conscience by extending tender mercies on the poor down trodden slaves who hitherto were burdened with whips and chains, kneeling in supplication begging for freedom. The cold reality is that the captives were stolen from their homeland wasted no time in rebelling and resisting the evil captors, who were bent on breaking their spirits using all manner of ruthless devices to carry out their purpose.

There is a whole litany of hero and shero kings, queens and noble warriers. Penmen and women wrote tomes, poems, essays, books and other materials opposing the human traffic. Amongst these were Ouladah Equiano and Sojourner Truth, their writings and speeches pressing home the degradation suffered by the captives as can only be expressed by victims.

Black History Season is about redressing the balance and putting forward the Afrikan perspective on the foregoing. As the Afrikan proverb says, ‘until the lions have their own historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter’.

Wolde Selassie, Chair Black History Season, Leicester.

Black Achievers Awards

October 2008: BHM focuses on African Renaissance which identifies African/African Caribbean history and prompts the discovery of past and progressive achievements across the Diaspora. This concept was first acknowledged during South African political elections in 1994 and embraced in Deputy President Mbekin’s speech ‘I am an African’ in May 1996. This year, the theme was re-emphasised by KwaZuly-premier and Chairperson of African Renaissance in the addressing speech at this year 10th African Renaissance Conference which concluded:

“The modern concept of the African Renaissance has two key components. First, the identification of a unique African history as shown by the rediscovery of past achievements. Second, the demand for a share of world prosperity realised through economic development and globalisation.”

Leicester’s Black History Season 2008 supports this concept with a cohesion of events which commemorate African/African Caribbean culture and development.

October 2009: BHS theme of ‘My History, Our History is Black History’. Discovery of Afrikan written text at Timbuktu Mali, which will mean re-writing all the world’s history books, and a popular first Black President of the USA.

October 2010: BHM celebrated the remarkable achievements of Mary Seacole, in the field of nursing, and the local and international Ska music legend, Laurel Aitken. They both had a profound impact on all those that had the opportunity to meet or work with them, resulting in a true legacy that we see continue today. As committed teachers of others, both were keen to ‘pass on their own ways of doing things’. The both of them being recognised innovators, as such they have made our world so much richer by their open and large humanity.

October 2011: BHM was a tribute to Gil Scott Heron (1 April 1949- 27 May 2011) who was a leading contemporary figure in the world of music.

October 2012: BHM was paying tribute to the 50 years of independence for Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago with Linton Kwesi Johnson, whose words have become part of British history, carving out the relationship between the Caribbean and the reality of the UK. The Jamaican fever in Leicester continues with Dune, who present a celebration of Bob Marley with Catch a Fire, Ballare: To Dance is a collaboration of classical music with non-Western musical instrumentation like the steel pan at the heart of the composition. Nardo Brudet’s exciting and controversial exhibition, Slaves of Holland, launches BHS to challenge the audience and the notions of independence, freedom and emancipation.

October 2013: BHM is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. The vision, aspiration and dreams of contemporary society are born out of the cosmopolitan nature of Leicester. This year’s launch celebrates the dream, our similarities and the wisdom of contemporary leaders.

October 2014: BHM events celebrate the accomplishments of Nobel Laureates; Toni Morrison, the first Black woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature and Derek Walcott, the first Caribbean writer to receive the honour.

October 2015: BHM’s events acknowledges the contribution of jazz icon Billie Holiday, in what is the centenary year of her birth. This month allows us to recognise the achievements of international figures, such as Holiday, but also helps us focus on the larger achievement of whole communities in society.

October 2016: BHM will recognise the life and work of South African Social Rights activist Desmond Tutu on the occasion of his 85th Birthday and also marks 40 years since the seminal publication The Arts the Britain Ignores by Naseem Kahn. Policy, practice and social justice is the theme that will be celebrated as throughout BHM 2016.