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Black History Month – Pan-african flag

Black History Month (BHM) in East Sussex

Black History Month (BHM) is celebrated every October in Britain. It’s a chance to celebrate black culture and black people’s contribution to the arts, music and life as well as helping people to understand more about racism and the slave trade.

A bit of history

Black people have been in Britain since Roman times. Some arrived as traders but many were brought to Britain from Africa as slaves with no rights and experienced terrible cruelty and abuse.

Black Caribbean people were encouraged to come to Britain to fill jobs after the war and many experienced racism when they got here. Today 40% of black people in the UK were born here.

Find out more about Black British history at BBC 1Xtra - Black history timeline or at the Black History Month website.


'Black History Month is about those who made a difference not purely because of the colour of their skin, but their actions.'

Willber Willberforce, BBC 1Xtra's Deputy Head of Programmes

This could be people from the past such as:

  • Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, who campaigned for equal rights in the US
  • Mary Seacole, the famous nurse and heroine of the Crimean War
  • William Wilberforce, who was involved in the movement to abolish slavery in Britain.

Or it could be today’s black heroes, such as:

  • Barack Obama, the first African American president
  • Nelson Mandela, who challenged apartheid in South Africa
  • musicians Dizzie Rascal and Rhianna
  • politician Diane Abbott
  • Usain Bolt - the first man to successfully defend both the 100m and 200m sprint titles in an Olympic Games
  • Mo Farah, Britain's London 2012 double gold medallist - a far cry from his humble beginnings in Somalia, from where he arrived in London at the age of 8 speaking very little English
  • Nicola Adams - winner of the first ever women’s Olympic Boxing gold medal for Britain at London 2012.

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