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Black History Month & Me: Irish Tony-Awusaku

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Published on 06 October 2022

Irish Tony-Awusaku
Irish Tony-Awusaku

Irish Tony-Awusaku, Equality and Diversity Officer at the University's students' Union, writes about Black History Month.

Origin of Black History Month

Black History Month started as Negro history week in 1926 by an African American historian Carter G. Woodson. In February 1969, a group of black editors and students at Kent State University proposed that it be changed to black history month which was adopted in 1970. After nearly two decades, the first ever Black History Month in the United Kingdom was celebrated in October 1987. It was organised under the leadership of Akyaaba Addai-Sebo who an analyst and served as a coordinator of special projects for Greater London Council. It was celebrated in London as part of the African Jubilee year to mark the contributions of Black people throughout history.

​​​​​​​Why we should celebrate BHM

We celebrate Black History Month to honour the contribution made to society by people of black heritage but also to educate and enrich the world with the importance of Black history. The celebration is also aimed to eradicate poverty and encourage racial equality.

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better." Martin Luther King

Over the years, BHM have been themed to encourage recognition, understanding and identity. In 2019, the theme was ‘Black migrations’, in 2020 it was ‘Dig deeper, look closer and think bigger’, last year it was ‘Proud to be’. This year, the theme is Sharing journeys.

This October, we should bring to light our different experiences being part of this community. We should cease the opportunity to remind the world of the wonderful works of all the black Britons that paved way for us and our future generations. We should speak about the likes of Olaudah Equiano, Mary Seacole, Dame Jocelyn Barrow, Amanda Alridge, Ottobah Cugoano, John La Rose, and Kathleen Wrasama. We should also share the present contributions of the people that make changes we should imitate like Ekaine Sihera, Kwasi Kwarteng, Emeli Sande MBE, Professor Donna Chambers, Akala and many more.

“Given Britain’s extensive history of colonialism, I believe that Black History is British History.” Professor Donna Chambers​​​​​​​

How we are celebrating BHM @ UOS

This year we are doing a range of activities, like weekly film nights, cultural celebrations, podcasts etc to mark this years’ BHM. To find out more please visit Your SU* page. To learn more about black history, visit your SU page https://www.sunderlandsu.co.uk/campaigns/blackhistorymonth

Irish Tony-Awusaku, 21, is originally from Nigeria. She studied LLB Law at Sunderland, and is currently studying for her Masters in Legal Practice. Irish has worked as a Student Ambassador and is the current Equality and Diversity Officer with the Your Students' Union.