Black History Month at Elstree

Celebrating black history and culture in the month of October has been a British tradition since the 1960s. This has taken on various forms in the past, including African & Caribbean dance, art exhibitions and drama.

What is Black History Month about?

Black History Month was originally founded to recognise the contributions African and Caribbean people have made to the UK.  Now, Black History Month has expanded to include the history of not just African and Caribbean people, but black people in general.

“In years gone by, October has been the only time of year when the UK talks about the achievements of black people in Britain,” says Catherine Ross – Founder Director, of The National Caribbean Heritage Museum, and guest editor of Black History Month 2020.

“Hopefully, the events of 2020 will be a catalyst for black history to be shared much more widely – in museums, galleries, schools, universities, public spaces and communities.”

She continues: “Black History Month is a time for people to come together and hopefully learn lessons for the present and the future. It’s a time to honour the commitment to learning and standing united against racism. It’s a time to reclaim history and re-imagine how our shared history will be told in the future.”

How Elstree got involved 

Last month, Forms 5ELB and 5LAB explored the theme of empathy through characterisation in their Drama Lessons with Head of Drama Mrs Oliver. They focused their performances on three widely known characters from black history. These included, Mary Seacole (1805-1881), Rosa Parks (1913-2005) and Martin Luther King Junior (1929-1968).

Year 5LAB performed the story of Mary Seacole – a Jamaican nurse, who despite racial discrimination, went to the Crimean war in 1854 to help British soldiers.  While Year 5LEB focused on  Rosa Parks, the African American department store assistant, who sparked a resistance and boycott against racial injustice on buses in Alabama, USA.

The Elstree Black History Month Assembly concluded with Martin Luther King Junior’s “I have a dream…” speech. As an African American church minister, he fought tirelessly for equality for all black Americans in the 1960s. Then, Year 6 joined Year 5 with a song “We shall overcome” accompanied by Head of Music Mrs Westley.

Aki in Year 5 said: “We don’t have enough time today to pay tribute to the thousands of black people who have played such a significant part in world history, but hopefully the stories we have shared in our assembly, will help us appreciate the commitment, courage and sacrifice these heroes have made.”