BLACK HISTORY MONTH WORKSHOPS FOR SCHOOLS
Our Black History Month package for schools includes two facilitators and can cover an assembly and 10 class sessions lasting approximately 45 minutes. After the assembly facilitator one could be based in the hall and provide African drumming/dancing sessions and facilitator two could move from class to class and provide Black History Month cultural sessions for the rest of the school. The cultural sessions can include any of the below 10 activities for Black History Month or specific sessions on racism, slavery, Civil Rights Movement, Apartheid in South Africa, the Windrush generation, contributions made by famous British black people and much more. We come to your primary or secondary school in a small van and bring all the resources required for the BHM workshops. The school only needs to provide the space and a cup of tea at break would be nice. Please contact us for further information or to make a booking.
10 ACTIVITIES FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN SCHOOLS
We have tried and tested these craft activities for Black History Month in primary schools. If you would like more details please contact us.
- Unity handprint wreath http://www.dltk-kids.com/world/munitywreath.htm
- Freedom hands http://www.crayola.com/crafts/freedom-hands-craft/
- Dove hand print painting https://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2017/01/09/martin-luther-king-denver/. This website also has a link to “we are all the same on the inside” where you use a brown egg and a white egg to demonstrate.
- Being treated equally, an effective way of demonstrating to children unfair treatment http://lessons.atozteacherstuff.com/424/being-treated-equally/
- Rosa Parks bus craft https://www.woojr.com/rosa-parks-day-bus-craft/ and worksheets https://www.woojr.com/rosa-parks-day-printables/
- Make a freedom quilt (underground railway) http://www.mathwire.com/quilts/quilts.html; https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/complete-art-scheme-of-work-freedom-quilts-linked-to-the-caribbean-slavery-topics-6439735
- Adinkra printing using sponges, string or potatoes. Adinkra symbols and meaning http://www.adinkra.org/htmls/adinkra_index.htm
- Make a small African hand drum http://mamato5blessings.com/2015/03/african-spirit-drum-craft-homeschool-geography-lesson-learn-link-linky/
- Make an African clay pot coil or pinch: https://www.metmuseum.org/metmedia/video/metkids/metkids-create/make-a-clay-pot
- Make an African mask http://www.artyfactory.com/africanmasks/design/step1.htm; https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/african-mask-making-6334395
BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN SCOTLAND
Why do we celebrate Black History Month in Scotland?
Like everywhere else in the UK, Black History Month Scotland is an annual festival – a festival of diversity and Scottish multi-cultural society. Most BHM celebrations in Scotland are held in the major cities especially the biggest Scottish city of Glasgow.
Most people living in many Scottish cities, especially in Glasgow today are not aware of how much the trans-Atlantic slavery and colonial rule made to the development of Glasgow, that we see as the fastest growing multi-cultural city in the UK. Many historic buildings and great monuments of the city reflects Scotland’s active role in not only in helping to plan the transatlantic slavery and colonial rule but the great economic benefits Scotland gained from Africans and Black people including Asians.
Today in the South side of Glasgow as in every corner of Glasgow city, Black Asians and Black African economic contributions to the city cannot be overestimated. The Black, Asian, African, Caribbean and the wider ethnic minority in Scotland contribute in many areas of Scottish economy from corner shops, to take-away and restaurants, import and export businesses, warehousing and global logistic. The Scottish black and ethnic minority populations have made many great past and current contributions to many aspects of Scottish life including political and cultural contributions. The current Transport Minister in Scotland is of black and ethnic minority Asian and African background and has contributed hugely in inspiring young generations of ethnic minorities to believe that they can also make it.
Despite past difficulties in race relationships, it is these measurable yardsticks of progress in society that makes it necessary for us to celebrate diversity of all its positive connotations in Scottish society today. Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to acknowledge, understand, appreciate the positive benefits of a diverse society in which people are happy, confident and not afraid to live and work with each other for the common benefit of Scotland, UK and the wider world.
What does Councillor Graham think is the way forward in Glasgow? Read what Graham thinks about the difficult past and historic links of Glasgow:
What does Black History Month mean to an African child in Scotland?
To an African child growing up in Glasgow, special annual occasions such as Saint Andrew’s day, Burn’s Night, the Glasgow Mela and other cultural events in Black History Month are an opportunity to celebrate the joy of growing up in the friendliest city in the world. Glaswegians are the friendliest people on a sunny day.
There are many community activities and events in Glasgow during Black History Month and there are lots of similar events in Central Scotland, Falkirk and Stirling and all the way to the capital city of Edinburgh and stretching from there to Dundee and Aberdeen.
Although there is increasing awareness over the past few years, the Scottish educational sector has not yet fully woken up to the cultural benefits and exciting educational and learning experiences Scottish school children can have by organising BHM music, art, poetry and other diverse cultural activities and creative lesson plans.
Things are changing, and they are changing very fast. Most Glasgow schools now have a large minority of children from African, Asian or an ethnic minority background.
What is the educational benefit of Black History Month activities to a Scottish School Child?
- Increased learning opportunities — BHM is an opportunity to learn something new or old in school.
- Improved Scottish and Global Citizenship — global citizenship is a key component of the Scottish Education Curriculum for Excellence. Global citizenship is about being proud of our local, national and global identities. Global citizenship education teaches Scottish school children to develop their global communication skills and improve understanding about the big and diverse world around us. If the next generation of Scottish children want to have the best global communication and best human relationships and people’s skills and best economic links with the rest of the world, it is very possible. But, first, the school children in Scotland today can do well to learn from all the great diversity of people and cultures that exist right here in Scotland first. Understanding the opportunities that we can have in a positive global environment can create new wealth and greater opportunities for all and not the few or the many. BHM enables school children to improve global citizenship in Scottish children. By learning something new about others, they also improve their own understanding of themselves and their ability to relate and function or develop to their best Scottish, British, European and best human potentials.
- Confident Individuals and Successful Learners. When children are made to feel comfortable and confident to learn about other cultures and traditions; it widens their awareness of the world, stirs their curiosity, questions their own ideas and beliefs, makes them more accepting of differences and similarities in people, better able to see and or challenge racial stereotypes, highlights racism or racist behaviours and creates an opportunity to learn from our recent history.
- Effective Contributors to society and the world through a better appreciation of culture. By learning about other people’s cultures in school, children can better value their own Scottish culture which they share with others every day.
- Children can only become responsible citizens if they have the knowledge and understanding of other cultures, traditions and ways of life and to be aware of what has happened in history when other people’s values are belittled, ignored and misunderstood.
History and Future of Black History Month in Scotland
Councillor Graham Campbell is by far the most recognised public figure and the one most people would credit as the founder of Black History Month in Scotland. Councillor Graham is a human rights and black activist and community development practitioner and anti-racist campaigner. Councillor Graham is also Scotland’s most senior African Caribbean political leader – serving as the councillor for Springburn Glasgow.
CRER – The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights
CRER has co-ordinated Black History Month in Scotland during October since 2001, and has encompassed the history of African, Caribbean and Asian people in this country; people who often have a direct link with Scotland through slavery, colonialism and migration. Black History Month focuses on people whose sacrifices, contributions and achievements against a backdrop of racism, inequality and injustice are often forgotten about and who are absent from our history books and education system.
The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights works to eliminate racial discrimination and harassment and to promote racial justice across Scotland.
Their key mission is to:
- Protect, enhance and promote the rights of Black/minority ethnic communities across all areas of life in Scotland; and
- Strengthen the social, economic and political capital of Black/minority ethnic communities, especially those at greatest risk of disadvantage.
- To find out more about CRER visit their website: https://www.crer.scot/black-history-month
Further Scottish links:
BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN THE USA
Why do they celebrate Black History Month in America?
Black History Month is an annual celebration in America in February. The aim is to pause, reflect, recognise and rejoice the massive contribution of African-American people to the history and cultural diversity of the United States of America as it is today.
What is the importance of Black History Month celebration in the USA?
To all Americans today, there is a shared anxiety about the direction of the future. This anxiety comes from the history of the nation. It is a collective and shared understanding of the difficult history in relation to the shared abundant presence and the great abundant future every American citizen today wants.
The history of who we are or who they are can never be over taught or over discussed. History is what we are whether we teach it to ourselves and our children, or not. History is what we are whether we face up to it together and rejoice or ignore it together and continue to function as divided nations on earth.
For many children and young people, history in its written form alone can be tedious and respectively boring. Turning history into a cultural celebration allows and enables people from diverse cultural backgrounds to engage and develop society to reflect the best dreams of all the people in it.
Through the participation of music, art, poetry, lectures, theatre and other community engagement toolkits available, these celebrations can inspire not only African American children, but all-American children and all-American adults to face up to history and don’t allow history to divide the nation. Black History Month celebrations enables every American to appreciate the good lives they have together now, compared to the past slavery years or the future they may rather have if they fail to celebrate these opportunities they have to make America Great Again!
Yes! There is no doubt that America is great now as it is and can only be greater than it is, if, they can find a way to unite the nation with diverse cultural celebrations like Black History Month.
“History is not the enemy of us. History is not something that is worthy of our hate. History is not something that we can change or run away from. But, history is something we can reflect, mourn, sober up, learn from it to know and do better and rejoice for the sake of the freedoms that we have that we know we wouldn’t have in history!” Chief Chebe
What do African American school teachers think about Black History Month celebrations?
Like anything else including God that can be so simple to conceive in the mind, what is often so simple in this life can also become a complication. This phenomenon of necessary or unnecessary complication is facing Black History Month and what future it may take.
Some African American teachers for example think that choosing only one month to teach school children about the values of a diverse society is not enough. This group of teachers will argue that Black History is American History and the lessons that can be learnt from the discriminative past can be taught in schools every day. This inclusive approach they argue will enable the new generations to understand the difficult past and appreciate the freedoms, liberties and rights they have in the country.
Another group of African American teachers believe Black History Month, although a little window of opportunity can become a great window if we celebrate cultural diversity one month a year. When the benefits of the one-month celebration is shared, it can make a huge difference. In other words, little drops of water can make a mighty ocean!
There is a good debate about the cons and pros of Black History Month from two opposing African American teachers at:
What are the educational benefits of celebrating Black History Month in American Schools?
- Separating the myth from facts of history. In the past, African Americans were regarded and treated as second class citizens of the world. Today, the opportunity to celebrate Black History Month enables everyone to accept that mistakes were made in the past and we can learn to do well from our past mistakes. If every American citizen is equal in the eyes of the American Constitution, teaching every American the truth about history and how history have put them in a fortunate position they are in today is what will inspire the school children in America in every new generation to do well and leave a better legacy for the future generations of lucky and exceptional American citizens of the future!
- Black History Month creates positive opportunities for mutual respect and improved understanding of others — improved citizenship.
- Develop a sense of global citizenship among children and young people growing up in the greatest economy on earth but at the same time going through a volatile and uncertain and hostile political climate in a fast-heating world.
- Inspiring and boosting the confidence and communication skills and tolerance of children and young adults as well as improving opportunities for adult education.
- Cultural diversity celebrations during Black History Month enable the nation to heal itself and evolve from the pain of the past.
- Freedom and Diversity is good for a great economy. When more people in an economy are enabled and opportunities are created and shared without discrimination, the economy will continue to perform quantum miracles!
What is the history of Black History Month in the USA?
Unlike the UK, Black History Month in America was celebrated in the second week of February and called the ‘Negro History Week’. The earliest recorded celebration was ignited as far back as 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, an African American spiritual leader and historian. It was during the ‘Negro History Week’ many freed slaves gathered and tried to remember all the things they lost during the slaved years, including their language, culture, history, art, poetry, music, dance, science, engineering etc.
In addition to remembrance of the past, the Negro History Week celebrations also allowed the freed slaves to network and some were able to trace their lost relatives. It also became an economic development and fantastic platform to do business. It became a way to develop with each other rather than envying and fighting each other after such a horrible and long spell of combined pain – the unrelenting pain of four hundred years and more of turbulent history of slave trade, cultural supremacy and racial segregation.
So, Black History Month which was a “Negro History Week,” was originally designed to celebrate the liberty and dignified lives that a freed slave or a free American man and woman was now able to enjoy in a harmonious and forever prospering country they can all be proud to call the United States of America — one nation with many great cultures under one God.
In a nutshell, the ‘Negro History Week’ or Black History Month as it is now commonly called, started as a way of celebrating the lives of freed slaves. It was President Ford in 1976, at the bicentennial of the United States, expanded the week celebration to a full month program of national activities in recognition of the big contribution Africans-Americans made to the development of the United States of America. President Ford in endorsing Black History Month as a positive platform for national celebrations also stated that America needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
President Ford acknowledged that without such great and in most cases, fruitless contributions made by Africans — both home and abroad — made the beginning to now, America will not be what it is that so many people love and enjoy living in today.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN AFRICA
What do people in Africa think about Black History Month?
Most African immigrants in the world are reluctant and some even opposed to the concept of Black History Month for many reasons. Most Africans in Africa can see the benefits of Black History Month for the Africans in the diaspora because of the level of discrimination Africans in the diaspora face, especially in Europe and America. However, very few see the need to celebrate Black History Month in Africa because racism is not a disease African people have in Africa.
The danger of colour coded identification of human beings can sometimes be the simplest or the simplistic way to start this debate. But, in effect, colour coded racial identification can be a dangerous pre-occupation that can dilute and undermine the great contributions Africans have made to World History, especially to the History and development of Europe and America today.
The following are three of some of the compelling reasons why most Africans are sceptical about the future of Black History Month in Africa:
- The question of Black over African identity.
- The danger of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of African history as a total disaster.
- The importance of culture and traditions.
The question of Black over African identity
To most Africans in Africa, the best description of our identity is African and not Black people. A person from Africa is called an African. A man from Africa is not called a Black man, he is an African first. A person from Ghana is called a Ghanaian and not a Black man. Likewise, a man from England is called an English man and not a white man. India is not in Africa. But, India is full of black people.
Even in most African communities abroad, there is fear about the danger of defining people’s identities based on colour descriptions. Colour based description of one’s cultural identity can be dangerously misleading and cause unconscious bias that discriminate people based on their skin colour. Colour coded identification narrows the brackets or the boxes we can fit in. It offers us limited opportunities to describe who we are, our culture and our traditions and our beliefs. It also leads to a culture of unnecessary political correctness where people are blushing and fearful of offending you or worried about either to address you as a coloured man or a black man.
We know for example that during the apartheid regime in Africa, the colour categorisation of people placed black people at the bottom of society; deemed as inferior to the coloured community, the Indian community and the white community in South Africa. If the resources of South Africa were distributed to all South Africans as a one nation of people with a shared and diverse history and culture, there would never have been the need for Apartheid in South Africa. Without extremist and poor definition of race in South Africa – replacing people’s identity to the colour of their skin, there couldn’t and there shouldn’t have been any moral, spiritual or fair justification for treating people bad or good because of the shade of their colour and not the content of their character.
As we know now, many people in South Africa during the apartheid years, especially black South African women, were either encouraged, prescribed or forced to use harsh and ill intended skin bleaching chemicals cynically imported from Europe and America by the Apartheid regime to make black people bleach and be lighter skinned before they could gain employment in the civil service. Many women during the apartheid years could never dream of becoming an office secretary unless they had a fairer skin to prove that they were clever enough to work as South African Government Civil servants or hold any public position as a South African woman in years gone by.
Those South Africans who were fortunate to have jobs could only be promoted if they had a lighter coloured skin. This was the worst example of reducing a whole race of people to their skin colour and overlooking everything else that made the African people great including our culture and way of life.
Africans are Africans and not black-inferior people as the apartheid regime tried and failed to achieve in South Africa. In the end, the Apartheid regime as we all know now is history. But, history always has a very strange habit of repeating itself, especially, the horrible history. The good news is that history will always remain a sore or a bone of contention for those who refuse to learn from it. But, it is necessary to learn from it. We can learn from African History to do better for ourselves as African people and make Africa great again!
Going back to the past tragedy of South Africa today, we can learn together as Africans in Africa that the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of African Identity or the characterisation of Africans as nothing else apart from black and inferior only support the long-routed tradition of the master or the acute and outdated imperial insanity or sick supremacy doctrine of some people being superior to other races based on the shades of their skin colour. Even from the South African experience alone, we can learn to unite us one and be very proud of our universal African and human heritage.
The danger of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of African history as a total disaster!
The second reason why most Africans in Africa are deeply sceptical about Black History Month is based on the fear that African history is depicted in Europe and America as a history of struggle. The fear is that the negative and ill served image western media has portrayed of black people or about Africa as poor and bad. In this poor and bad media environment, the focus is always spent in Black History Month talking about slavery and people have spoken or did things to end discrimination in Europe and America with a particular emphasis on the Civil Right Movement in America and now the question of the Windrush generation and how they are now being treated in Great Britain today after they came from the Caribbean and helped to build up British infrastructure after the devastations of war.
The legacy of the Windrush generation is that today, their sons and daughters as well as grand and great grandchildren can boast of helping to build many of the big things that bring luxury, good health and comfort to British people today including the London Underground and the NHS.
Yes, the transatlantic slave trade was one of the biggest tragedies not only in African history but the history of the world. The tragedy of five hundred years of systematic and organised slavery, some will say organised criminality or brute barbarism, is by far the worst tragedy in the history of humankind. The trans-Atlantic slave trade that tried to evacuate the people and entire resources from the land of Africa cannot be compared to any other tragedy in human history including the Holocaust in the Second World War. The truth is that Europeans admitted their guilt and repented from their collective sins against Jews. We know this because we can see that every year there are numerous holocaust memorial events and celebrations everywhere in Europe, especially, in Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland and Russia. But, nothing is done anywhere by Europeans to admit their guilt and shame in torturing and using Africans as subhuman beings for hundreds of years and still in many cases by institutional discrimination still treating Africa and African citizens as somehow, second class citizens of the world.
In effect, Black History Month sometimes creates the illusion that Europe and America have changed their imperial thinking and now regard their fellow human beings as equal. But, when you look at European institutions and their trade policies towards Africa in relation to Agriculture for example, you can see that European Institutions and European Conglomerates are taking Africa for a ride. Europe and America only show tokenistic repentance by using pithy aid as a source of confusion to deviate from our own African Development Agenda
The important issue is that by portraying Africans as descendants of slaves is very wrong. The entire history of Africans is not about slavery and suffering. Africans had great civilisations long before the outside world came to know anything about civilisations. The pyramids are an excellent example of such advanced civilisation and evidence of great and harmonious African history before the Arabians, the Europeans and Americans stepped foot in this otherwise blessed continent.
The history of Africa is not all about pain and suffering and constant failure. The history of Africa is full of exciting periods covered by great people like Mensa Musa of Mali who according to Forbes magazine is still by far the richest man in the recorded history of the world!
The importance of culture and traditions
The Harvard trained historian and the founder of Negro week, Carter G. Woodson, the man most people accredit as the founder of the of Black or Negro History Month in America, warned about the danger of cultural identity based on race or skin colour of people rather than their culture and traditions. Here is what Mr G. Woodson had to say in 1926 about the importance of history and race:
“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”