Black History Month 2017: 10 key facts

10 Oct 2017

Black History Month is an opportunity for all PCS members to remember our history and look to the future, joining together to renew our commitment to race equality.

Key facts for this year’s celebrations

  1. 2017 is the 30th anniversary of BHM in the UK.  It was first celebrated here in 1987, but this year is 90 years old in the USA. 
  2. BHM is celebrated in October in the UK – in the US it is February.
  3. After this year’s general election on 8 June the House of Commons now has 51 MPs from non-white backgrounds.This is out of a total of 650 MPs.
  4. On 1 April 2017, Darcus Howe, the Trinidad-born British broadcaster, writer and civil rights campaigner died. He came to Britain at the age of 18 with the intention of training as a barrister. However, unwilling to accept the status of second-class citizen, he gave up the law in favour of Black Power politics and radical journalism
  5. Black workers with degrees are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates.  Official statistics show that the unemployment rate for white workers with degrees is 2.3%. However, for BAME graduates this rises to 5.9%.  At every level of education, jobless rates are much higher for BAME workers.
  6. On 11 June 1987, the same year that BHM was founded in the UK, four black MPs were elected to parliament. They were all Labour MPs: Dianne Abbott, Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant, and Keith Vaz.
  7. 34% of black, Asian or minority ethnic people (BAME) witnessed or experienced racial abuse in the months after the Brexit vote in June 2016.
  8. It is 50 years since Robert Lawrence became the first black astronaut in June 1967.  He was killed on a training mission in December 1967 at only 32 years old.
  9. 2018 will be 50 years since the Empire Windrush sailed into London from Jamaica with 492 British Caribbeans on board. 
  10. Black History Month began as “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. The second week in February was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century. It became a month-long celebration in 1976, in the US.

Resources for use during Black History Month, along with the key facts in poster form, are available on the PCS website.

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