in News October 25, 2018

Why Black History Month Matters Across Faiths

This month, up and down the country, lessons, seminars, events and performances will celebrate the contribution of the Black community in the UK, as well as reflect on the cultures and histories.

As a British society, there is a unique understanding of how diversity enhances national culture, therefore; Black History Month should matter to people across all faiths and none. However, proclaiming the value of diversity is not enough to ensure cohesion. Nor does it truly recognise the contributions of marginalised communities.

That’s why it’s essential that we use Black History Month to celebrate the role of Black communities in fashioning UK society in an image of openness, tolerance and fairness.

Getting involved with a Black History Month-related event or activity is one way to do this. Another is to help raise the profile of some of the incredible black individuals at the centre of social, political and economic life; at home, at school, at work, or at your place of worship.

At Faiths Forum for London, we’ll be using Black History Month 2018 to spotlight our fellow faith leaders:

There’s the trailblazing Bishop Wilfred Wood, who served as Britain’s first black Anglican bishop in 1985. Wood was appointed Bishop of Croydon until 2003 after founding the Paddington Churches Houses Association, working to improve race relations and fight discrimination.

Then there’s the philanthropic Reverend Les Isaacs. In 2003, Reverend Isaacs helped launch Street Pastors, a community response to youth violence, gangs and knife crime. Since then, Street Pastors have impacted the world. There are currently 11,000 street pastors based in over 250 towns and cities across the UK, and across the world; in America, Jamaica, Antigua, Australia and more.

Finally, we’d be remiss if, on the centenary of Women’s Suffrage, we failed to mention Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin. As the first-ever black woman to serve as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and Chaplain to the Queen, Reverend Hudson-Wilkin is perhaps the best-known female face in the Church of England, serving as an inspiration to women and girls everywhere.

Like so many other black Britons, these individuals have made an invaluable contribution to the communities that they represent and the importance of telling their stories cannot be overstated.

The strengthening of forces of division and polarisation threatens the project of ensuring society is ordered in the collective interest of all its component parts. It’s our responsibility to tackle this danger. By awakening one another to the stories of Diasporas in the UK, and by emphasising how this shared historical encounter has enriched the place we all call our home.

This year also marks a hundred years since soldiers from around the commonwealth sacrificed selflessly for our future freedom, making national commemorations such Black History Month ever more pertinent.

In promoting consciousness of our common humanity and establishing shared communal platforms upon which this common purpose is elevated, they serve as a validation of the political, social and cultural signatures of the country’s black communities.

We hope to see faith groups across the UK engaging with the Month and endorsing its mission.

in News October 25, 2018