In its 35th year, Black History Month has been a way to reflect on the Afro-Caribbean communities in the United Kingdom, their achievements, struggles and forms of activism in combating racism.
Many argue that the idea of Black History Month neglects the importance of integrating holistic education, awareness and concrete changes in the system year-round. It has, however, remained to be a platform for such awareness with events, performances, exhibitions, film screenings, and publications such as the Black History Month Magazine aiming to create more visibility.
Despite its deep roots in UK culture, Black History Month comes at a time when there is still much work to be done. Last month, Chris Kaba was killed in London by Metropolitan Police with protests in cities across the United Kingdom following, as part of National Day of Action organised by the Justice for Chris Kaba Campaign.
Kaba’s family are still looking for answers, as a homicide investigation is ongoing but could last between six and nine months. The Kaba family along with activists successfully pushed for the investigation and the suspension of the officer responsible. Nevertheless, the suspension came only about a week after his death, and the family’s lawyer recently said in a statement that, “Six to nine months for this investigation is unacceptably long and lacks urgency…It indicates insufficient resources to do the job.”
Kaba, a 24 year-old musician and father-to-be, was driving in Streatham on September 5 in a car that may have been linked to a firearms incident, but the police admitted that he was not a suspect. The investigation will also be identifying if the single shot to the head by the police officer was race-motivated. The family still faces a long road ahead to seeing justice, as they are gathering funds to support the Justice for Chris Kaba Campaign and his family.
This year for Black History Month events, exhibitions such as ‘Black History Through Time’ at the Bank of England Museum examining the Bank’s links to slavery, markets and career fairs took place, along with film screenings and festivals including the Windrush Caribbean Film Festival.
Although UK Black History Month is winding down, activism is not, as the movement combating systemic racism in the UK has spanned over generations. Deep in our archives and into recent events, IMAGO looks at moments that have contributed to Black History in the United Kingdom: Recent protests, the symbolic and historic Notting Hill Carnival and its roots in activism, the 1981 Brixton Riots and its roots in police brutality in the UK, and the Windrush scandal and its roots in systemic racism.