Monday, March 1, 2021
Home WOLRD Africa It's clearer than ever that black history is everyone's history

It’s clearer than ever that black history is everyone’s history

History isn’t about the past. More and more, it’s about the present. And black history isn’t about faraway people. It’s about our own country.

Britain’s Black History Month has been running for more than 30 years. Yet it took the toppling of the statue of a 17th-century Bristol slave trader for most people to discover that the legacy of slavery runs deep throughout the entire country – in its banks and its major cities. Indeed, the “compensation” paid to slave owners after abolition was so vast that it took until 2015 for Britain to finish paying the bill.

In 2008, when the Guardian first printed the wallchart series which we’re updating in the newspaper from this Saturday, the 60th anniversary of the Empire Windrush was being celebrated. This story is about the present, too, because the name of that ship has now become synonymous with the scandalous way an entire generation of post-second-world-war migrants has been treated.

In 2008, the world witnessed the momentous election of the first ever African American US president. Today, we are in a similar moment of great change, as the death of George Floyd under the knee of a US police officer provokes a deep soul-searching about fundamental issues regarding equality and life chances for racial minorities in general, and black people in particular.

For all of us to understand where we are, and how we got here, it’s clear we need to understand our history. And that must include the contribution of Africans and their descendants to the story of Britain, and the world. The six-part wallchart series celebrates some of those stories: of world-shaping individuals and historic events.

This is not about creating a separate history; it is about adding to the history we are already familiar with. A story which shows that, from the Romans onwards, Africa’s story has been intertwined with Europe’s and others around the world. It’s a story well worth knowing.

The Guardian will celebrate world-shaping individuals and momentous events of Black History with our six-part series of wallcharts. Find them every day in the Guardian newspaper – starting this Saturday


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