Sharon Bishop: The importance of Black History Month in the UK
Black History Month; an opportunity to celebrate the innovative contributions to the social, political and cultural development made by people of African and Caribbean descent in the United Kingdom.
The celebration was first launched in London in the 1980s, the aim was for the local community to challenge racism and educate themselves and others on a part of British history that was not taught in schools. The idea originally started in the United States, which celebrates Black History Month in February, to coincide with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, and the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The lodestone for more recent black history in the UK is the arrival of the Windrush Generation in the UK in 1948. The Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex with 492 Caribbean passengers. Today an estimated 500,000 people, who arrived between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries, live in the UK.
Black History Month is a way of reflecting on the diverse histories of those from African and Caribbean descent, noting their achievements and working towards the aspirational goal of equality and a validation of the political, social and cultural signatures of the country’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
Close Brothers Group are planning an array of events to highlight the impact of Black History Month and why it’s important to us and other communities. We commenced with a Spotlight Series profiling individuals and allies from across the business; finding out what Black History Month means to our colleagues and what they hope to see with regards to celebrations in the future.
At Close Brothers Premium Finance (CBPF) this week, we held an event for colleagues with diverse backgrounds to come together and discuss their own upbringing, diversity in the workplace and how this month impacts them – it was important for me that we allowed the opportunity to have an open conversation, educating each other and finding out what we could improve upon.
Lastly, to round up the celebrations, we are hosting a celebratory evening for CBPF colleagues to network and continue the discussion of the importance of this month.
Black History Month presents an engaging space of mutual reflection, examination and evaluation and we at CBPF are proud of the culture and diversity within our business.