To celebrate black history month 2017 Sunderland BME Network held a celebratory event at Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre on Tuesday 24th October in association with –
- African People of Sunderland
- African Societal Artistique of Sunderland
- Sunderland University Students Union
- Young Asian Voices
- Friends of the Drop-In
- Sunderland African Association
- International Community Organisation of Sunderland
- Islamic Education Centre/Mosque
- Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre
A huge amount of planning and consultation went into organising this event. Sunderland BME Network was very mindful of the struggles and difficulties many people within our communities have had to deal with and wanted to ensure that everyone had a voice in planning the event.
As well as the local communities being involved government agencies, funders and organisations were asked to participate. Sunderland City Council, Gentoo Housing Group, Heritage Lottery Fund, Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service took part. We would like to thank everyone for their help and support.
Our event was held to recognise the struggles and challenges of the past and present but looked forward with hope and unity to celebrate the lives, talents and diversity of the black African community of Sunderland. As well as performances to demonstrate the rich pool of local talent there were talks and speeches about the black experience.
Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in the United States of America (US) in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State in the US a year later in February 1970.
Six years after that Black History Month had begun to be celebrated right across the US in educational institutions, centres of Black culture and community centres. When President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial, he urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history.”
Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987. It was organized through the leadership of Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who had served as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council, by creating a collaboration to get the celebration off the ground. From those first celebrations in London Black History Month has grown to be celebrated throughout the United Kingdom by a wide variety of people to show their support for the black community as well as the black community itself.
The Mayor of Sunderland Cllr Doris MacKnight, supported by Consort Mr Keith MacKnight, very kindly opened the event with a short speech.
Activities included –
A talk by Gary Bennet – former Captain of Sunderland Football Club – on his experiences as a black man
A speech by Kam Chera, owner of Funky Indian Restaurant
A Talk by Gabriel, President of the Nigerian Society
A speech by Rebecca Ball for the Sunderland 2021 bid
A talk by Rachidy Bikaya of African People of Sunderland
Powerpoint presentation by Peter Asuata of Sunderland African Association on the black experience
A talk by Seth Joez of Sunderland Student’s Union
A cultural fashion show
African dancing and drumming
The launch of Healthy Steps in Sunderland
There was also plenty of food available with a delicious meal before the DJ played some tunes to work off all those calories!
Our sincere thanks to everyone that came along and/or helped in the planning – we couldn’t have done any of this without you. We hope to see you again soon!