Barnet Council marked the start of the Black History Month (BHM) yesterday (1 October 2023), with a flag raising ceremony at Hendon Town Hall.
The ceremony was attended by The Worshipful the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Nagus Narenthira, councillors, dignitaries, and civic guests. The flag was raised by Mrs Agnes Slocombe, the first black Mayor of Barnet.
This is the second year that the council has taken part in BHM celebrations, after a motion was passed in July 2022 to annually mark the occasion, and to work with local communities to promote a programme of community-led events across the borough.
Councillor Zahra Beg, Cabinet Member for Equalities, Communities & the Voluntary Sector said:
“Following last year’s success in celebrating Black History Month for the first time in Barnet, we are very pleased to be funding and promoting a number of amazing community-led events again this year, together with a co-produced special event.
“Black History Month is a great way to celebrate the work of local community groups and organisations that support minority ethnic groups in our borough, and to promote understanding and respect.
“It’s also a great opportunity for the council to use the occasion to help further our long-term strategy on diversity and inclusion, and for us all to reflect on the achievements, accomplishments and history of black communities and cultures.
“Moving forward we will work in closer collaboration with residents and community leaders to challenge inequalities in our borough, with the hopes and ambitions that the conversations and education created through marking Black History Month will be reflected year-round.
“We encourage everyone to join one of the many events taking place across the borough for an opportunity to engage, learn, listen and most importantly celebrate Black History Month.”
Councillor Edith David, one of the black councillors in Barnet said:
“Black History Month is dedicated to celebrating communities and culture all around the world, and here in Barnet we want our communities to be part of those celebrations. It’s positive we’ve been able to mark this important occasion again this year in our borough. This is just the first step of many we are taking to promote diversity and show that we care about everyone in Barnet. We will put equality, diversity, and inclusion at the heart of everything we do to create a fairer and equitable borough for all.”
Councillor Ernest Ambe Esq, one of the black councillors in Barnet said:
“This year’s Black History Month theme is Celebrating our Sisters, Saluting our Sisters, Matriarchs of Movements. It aims to highlight the achievements and contributions of black women throughout history. It will shine a light on the women who have courageously battled oppression and advocated for change but have regularly had their work ignored or forgotten. Among the many deserving women a few need to be mentioned, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Diane Abbott, Mary Seacole, and Baroness Doreen Lawrence for all they have done in fighting for change.
As we celebrate Black History Month 2023, we should remember that the black community continues to disproportionately suffer from the housing crisis, health inequalities and an inexplicably high level of school exclusions. The council has done some good work over the last year in reducing inequality amongst black and other ethnic minority communities, but there is still a long way to go but with renewed determination this good work can only continue.”
This year, the council has allocated just under £13,000 of the Community Events Fund to fund 13 BHM events, which will be delivered by grass-root and community led organisations throughout the borough.
Events include: “Know the Past, to Shape the Future” held by Centre of Excellence, A Celebration of African Culture by The African Cultural Association, Barnet Libraries will be celebrating black writing and showcasing black authors in their first Black Literary Festival, and Age UK will be hosting a celebration of Black Culture with Baroness Lola Young.
Now in its 36th year, BHM recognises and celebrates the contributions of Black people to the economic, cultural, and political life in the UK. This year’s theme is ‘Celebrating our Sisters’ and highlights the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.
To find BHM events that are happening near you visit: https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/black-history-month-events-2External link.
There are also bus stops across the borough with QR codes you can scan to find out more about BHM events taking place in Barnet.
To view this year’s Black History Month Resource pack visit: Black History Month Resource pack 2023 – Black History Month 2023External link