This October 2020, Nottinghamshire YMCA is proud to support Black History Month as we celebrate notable black figures who have shaped our heritage, and reflect on ways we can ensure meaningful diversity and equality is thriving in our communities.
YMCA and Martin Luther King
Black History Month began as a way of remembering important African American people and events, and was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. In the UK, Black History Month was first celebrated in October 1987. It was organised through the leadership of Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who had served as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council (GLC) and created a collaboration to get it underway.
In the following decades, the movement evolved into a global campaign not only for recognising the achievements of black individuals and communities, but also for championing social change and self-reflection to promote parity in UK workplaces.
Over the coming weeks we will be sharing content from local groups and putting a spotlight on some of the greatest black pioneers our world has seen (so far), including exploring our charity’s relationship with Nobel Peace prize winner and ordained pastor Martin Luther King. The YMCA movement has always been a great believer in unlocking the potential of young people and, before Martin Luther King grew into one of the most influential world-changing civil rights leaders, he attended the YMCA as a child with a dream of making our world a better place.
To people all around the world, Black History Month harbours a different emphasis and significance. In the USA, this year’s theme is ‘African Americans and the Vote’, honouring the 100-year anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote, and the 1870 Fifteenth Amendment, which gave black men the right to vote.
It is worth noting that the struggle for the vote did not end with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which expanded voting rights substantially, but did not address the racial terrorism that prevented African-Americans in southern states from voting, regardless of sex. Women like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and Diane Nash continued the fight for voting rights for all, culminating in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
To us at Nottinghamshire YMCA, Black History Month is a time to honour our wonderful colleagues and service users, reflect on our own history and, possibly most importantly, refresh our ongoing pledge to ensure our movement continues to be a place of safety, diversity and empowerment for people of colour.
Show your support
But whatever theme you choose to highlight, let Black History Month serve as a reminder to us all that we should be uniting together all year round under the umbrella of respect and support for black communities. If the Black Lives Matter campaign has shown anything, it is that there is still work to be done to combat discrimination in our society but, most importantly, there are strong and caring individuals working together to make positive change happen.
So please do tune in, share our content and show your support throughout the month!
Read all about it
Education plays a vital role in widening our horizons to better understand issues relating to race. If you don’t quite know where to start, why not try some of these fiction and non-fiction books by black authors:
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, an anthology edited by Jesmyn Ward
- Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- The Sellout by Paul Beatty
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Dig Deeper – Look Closer – Think Bigger