Thursday, 29th October 2020

October is Black History Month and this year, our youth group members have led a series of workshops celebrating some of their favourite Black leaders, cultures, traditions and events.

Black History Month originated in the USA and now takes place across the globe each year to celebrate the achievements of Black people and communities and to recognise their role in history around the world.

Over the past two weeks, members of our youth groups have each presented a part of Black history that is meaningful and inspiring to them, drawing on people and events from their own backgrounds and cultures as well as Black history in the UK and USA.

Some of the people and topics learnt about include:

  • Bessie Coleman, the first Black American woman to earn a pilot’s licence in 1921, who thrilled crowds with her daring stunts and tricks
  • Thomas Sankara, a revolutionary political leader and president of Burkina Faso in the 1980s
  • Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, three Black female scientists and mathematicians working on complex space exploration voyages at NASA from the 1940s
  • Kaldi, the Ethiopian goatherd who discovered coffee around 850 AD after noticing how the goats that grazed on coffee beans became more energetic
  • Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a Nigerian political campaigner, educator and women's rights activist
  • The history and cultural meanings behind Black hair styles and the activism of Jasmine Jacobs against anti-Black discrimination in the US army
  • The people and culture of Papua New Guinea and Micronesia
  • The life and work of Maya Angelou, a Black American poet and civil rights activist
  • Leading Black LGBTQ rights activists Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin and Stormé DeLarverie
  • Music as a form of political expression in Ethiopia

Batseba Asefaw, ECPAT UK’s youth programme manager, said

“We were so impressed with the young people’s presentations which were diverse and passionate. For most of the group, this was their first time hearing and learning about Black History Month. However, what wasn’t new to them was their passion and ability to celebrate the achievements of Black people and communities.

“Black History Month is so important to our youth group members because too often, our achievements and successes are underrepresented in mainstream media, culture, and social and political narratives.

“Our youth group members inspire us every day with their commitment to campaigning, training professionals and advocating for the rights of their peers, and we know that many will go on to become leaders in their communities.”

Read our statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement