The 2018 Sunderland BME Network Black History Month event was held at The Beacon of Light, Stadium Park, Sunderland (pictured right).
This iconic new building is part of The Foundation of Light and features state of the art facilities.
With strong links to Sunderland football club and the world of sport our Chair, Kumareswaradas Ramanathas, was able to reference the tremendous work carried out in sport to reduce racism and intolerance by Kick it Out, the Federation of International Autosports in Formula 1, Show Racism the Red Card and other sport-related initiatives. This meant that one theme we were able to emphasis was of the inestimable contribution many black people have made to sport over many years. It was therefore a genuine privilege to have the former Captain of Sunderland football team Gary Bennett give a speech to welcome everybody to the event.
The event was very well attended with visitors from a wide area. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan opened the event (pictured below) to an enthusiastic crowd.
A number of exhibitors had stands to provide information for the community, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Northumbria Police, Sunderland Fans Museum, Friends Of the Drop-In (FODI), Gentoo, Sunderland Umoja Africa, Sunderland Lifestyle, Activity and Food Programme and our own project Healthy Steps.
As well as exhibitors there were performers which included a Zulu boy performance by Kevin Ditshego-Taiwo, also The Long Walk to Freedom was performed with the help of Northumbria Police who helped to add a touch of authenticity to the performance by using their policing skills and authority and a number of Genfactor winners and finalists.
As well as the above performance Lacinta Diabate with African Societal Artistique of Sunderland provided an uplifting drumming session for everyone at The Beacon of Light.
Thank you to all those who took part in this event, came along to visit it, supported it and wished it well. Without you and your support we could never provide such important information for our communities or continue to emphasise how much black people have contributed to our world.