The following information has been compiled to support the Westminster Hall debate on Black History month. Black History Month is an annual event to celebrate inspirational individuals and mark the significant contributions made to the history and culture of the United Kingdom by all black and minority ethnic communities.

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The History of Black History Month

Black History Month has been recognised in the United Kingdom every year since 1987 when it was marked with an event hosted by the Greater London Council.

The tradition began in the United States, with its origins in the 1920s and 30s when a week in February was selected by the historian Carter G. Woodson as ‘Negro History Week’ (see: Library of Congress: African American History Month). This informal celebration of ‘Black history’ became formally recognised by the US Government in 1976, when President Gerald Ford urged all American people to, ‘seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.’

Since then the celebration of a Black History Month has spread to both Canada – where it is also celebrated in February – and the UK, where the month of October was chosen as Black History Month.

Black and Minority Ethnic MPs

According to Operation Black Vote, there are currently 41 black and minority ethnic MPs: 17 are Conservative (41%), 23 are Labour (56%) and one is SNP (2%).

MPs from black or minority ethnicities now represent 6% of the Parliament. This is an increase over the 27 MPs elected in 2010 who were of a black or minority ethnicity.

To mark Black History Month 2015, the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn, as well as several other MPs and public figures, have all sent messages of support which may be viewed on the Black History Month 2015 website.

External Links

There is no single official organisation which runs or organises Black History Month in the UK. A huge range of organisations including universities, local authorities, voluntary groups, museums and libraries take part in planning and running events. The following is a selection of websites which specifically exist for Black History Month:

Black History Month 2015

Black History Month Magazine

Black History Month: FAQs

Library of Congress: African American History Month (USA)

Association for the Study of African American Life and History: Origins of Black History Month (USA)

Press and Media Articles

The following is a small selection of press and media articles relating to Black History Month and Parliament. Please note: the Library is not responsible for the views expressed in nor the accuracy of external content.

Independent, Black History Month: Here’s how black people have helped make Britain great, 5 October 2015

The Guardian, Black History Month needs a rethink: it’s time to ditch the heroes, 9 October 2015

The Guardian, Record number of female and minority-ethnic MPs in new House of Commons, 8 May 2015

NUS Connect, Celebrating Black History in Britain, 29 September 2015

Constantine-Simms, D., Black History in Britain – The African British Experience, Black Heritage Today, 19 October 2015

Further Information

House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, Ethnic Minorities in Politics and Government, SN01156

House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, Ethnicity and Religion: Social Indicators, SN02655

House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, General Election 2015, CBP7186

House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, Unemployment by Ethnic Background, SN06385

House of Lords Library Note, Membership of the House of Lords: Ethnicity, Religion and Disability, LLN/2014/17

Debate packs are intended to provide a summary or overview of the issues being debated and identify any relevant briefings including press and parliamentary material. A more detailed briefing may be prepared for a Member on request to the Library.

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