Skip to content

Black History Month (UK)

Authored by Sean Waite
Published on 1st October, 2022 2 min read

Black History Month (UK)

An image of two people dancing.

October marks the start of Black History Month. The month will be marked by a commemoration and celebration of Black history and culture.

Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 1987. In the UK, Black history centers on the experience and contribution of people from African and Caribbean backgrounds to the country’s history. The category of “Black” can mean different things in different contexts but in the context of the UK specifically refers to the aforementioned groups, rather than Arabic or Asian identities.

From its formation, the British Empire was intimately involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth centuries. Wealth brought to Britain, fueled by the cruel exploitation of people enslaved in Africa and sold to the Americas, formed a massive part of the nation’s modern prosperity. Many people involved in propagating the slave trade brought enslaved African people to Britain for the first time. Black populations in London grew steadily until the abolishment of slavery in 1834. The presence of Black people in Victorian society remained peripheral and stigmatised.

It was the immediate period after the Second World War which saw the arrival of the ‘Windrush’ generation, named after the steam ship which carried the first West Indian migrants from the Caribbean to Britain. They were responding to the British government’s call for people to help rebuild the country after the devastation of the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of West Indian migrants came to Britain during this period, significantly transforming the demographic make-up of the UK. 

Since the end of the Second World War, Black people’s cultural contributions to modern British history have been plentiful and significant. This includes everything from the proliferation of Caribbean food in the UK to the influential grime scene of the 2010s. People with Afro-Caribbean heritage stand at the forefront of UK culture and part of Black History Month is a celebration of that.

Black History Month has taken on a renewed significance in recent years due to incidents like the murder of George Floyd and other cases of police brutality against Black people across the world. Recently, there were protests in the UK over the death of Chris Kaba, who was killed by the police in South London despite being unarmed. In the wake of ongoing institutional racism, which has also manifested in the infamous ‘Windrush scandal’, it is important to take some time in October to reckon with Britain’s own problematic history and how it continues to manifest today.

To all those connected with African and Caribbean identities, British Online Archives wishes everyone a happy and informative Black History Month!

Authored by Sean Waite

Sean Waite

Sean Waite is a Political Science graduate of Birmingham and Aarhus University.

Share this article

Notable Days


The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

Get Social

Back to Top