Tributes to Black heroes through the ages and a celebration of African heritage and music are part of October’s Black History Month beginning today (Thursday) in Croydon.
The month-long programme – with a central theme this year of ‘Learning from our past to create an equal future’ – will start with an event run by Croydon BME Forum from 6-8pm tonight with music, comedy and a tribute to local key workers. The event ends with a panel discussion ‘Black Lives Matter Impact: Let’s Talk Community Vision’.
Celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement and local key workers who have supported their community during Covid-19 is also part of the events, which are being held online this year due to the pandemic.
The programme includes children’s workshops on great Black leaders such as Ignatius Sancho, a British writer, composer and abolitionist born around 1729 who was the first known person of African descent to vote in a British general election. There is also a celebration of South Norwood’s own 19th and 20th century composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Chineke Youth Orchestra that competed on Britain’s Got Talent in 2020, a tour of historic African artefacts at the British Museum and a workshop on exploring your Caribbean family tree.
There are also films of Windrush memories, a month-long photo exhibition of Black British heroes past and present at the Wellness Centre on the second floor of The Whitgift Centre, plus Afro Beat dance classes, health sessions, music quizzes, film analysis and healthy cookery courses. For more information on this year’s events in Croydon, visit the Croydon BME Forum website.
Croydon Council’s library service is also launching its first online Instapoetry competition for young people aged 13-19. Entrants are invited to share original poems inspired by a book, author or artist they feel speaks to their cultural experience and identity. Winners will receive a gift voucher and their poem will be shared on the library service’s Instagram page. Entries can be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Black History Month is an important time in Croydon’s calendar to learn about and celebrate the inspirational Black people, places and heritage that influence and have influenced us here in Croydon and further afield. This year’s theme: ‘Learning from our past to create an equal future’ – particularly given what we’ve all witnessed this year – highlights how much further we have to go to ensure that our collective understanding of our history truly reflects all of us – all year round and not just in October. Deep gratitude and congratulations to everyone involved, including the Croydon BME Forum, in curating another important programme.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities
Councillor Patsy Cummings, the borough’s BAME Champion, said: “Black History Month is not only a time for rejoicing and celebrating but also about leadership, integrity and determination and showing the true content of everyone’s character and fostering a true understanding of Black contributions to British society throughout the ages. Croydon is a rich, vibrant and diverse borough and we all stand together.”
Croydon BME Forum chief executive Andrew Brown said: “For Black History Month in Croydon this year, we’re not only reflecting on what has been but we are inspired to use our history to shape the future we want to see.
“We will be celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement and also paying tribute to our key workers who worked tirelessly during Covid-19 to keep us safe and to keep society moving. We are excited to launch this year’s theme and to share the variety of rich, vibrant and educational events taking place online across the borough.”