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UK Parliament celebrates Black History Month

1 October 2020

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The breadth, talent and achievements of the Black community in relation to Parliament will be marked with a series of celebratory events and projects for Black History Month. 

This will include the launch of a new educational resource for primary schools, in partnership with Onyinye Iwu, a teacher and freelance illustrator, which contains stories of influential Black Britons who have impacted UK laws and equal rights. Stories will be produced in a flexible format so schools can choose how they use them. 

Onyinye Iwu said: 

“Growing up I enjoyed learning about different civilisations and historical figures from the past, sadly due to the lack of representation I believed that Black people did not do or achieve much in the world, hence their absence in textbooks and films. As an adult I know better and I have cultivated a passion to educate young people about African and Caribbean historical figures. 

“This Black History Month resource for KS2 students was a fantastic project to get involved in as it highlights some truly inspirational members of the Black British community who have dedicated their lives to creating a better world for the Black community by contributing towards justice in British law and equal rights. This type of representation is very important in order to nurture wholesome children who understand fairness and equity in a multicultural society like today’s.” 

Parliament is also hosting a live online event where the impact of the Race Relations Acts and Equality Act, Race Relations Act and Slave Trade Abolition Act will be told through the individual experiences of Black people. This will feature an ‘in conversation’ online discussion between the Parliamentary Archives team and the National Caribbean Heritage Museum. It will include personal stories alongside the display of the original acts to discuss their impact.  

Parliament remains committed to improving the experience of Black members of its workforce. 

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons said: 

We are always keen to celebrate the work, talent and achievements of our staff – so Black History Month offers us another excellent opportunity to do just that. 

“While we are a proudly diverse nation, we do need to try harder to reflect this in the House of Commons and find ways to encourage more people from under-represented groups to seek opportunities within the organisation.”

Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, said:

"I am very pleased that Parliament is taking the opportunity of Black History Month to celebrate the contribution of Black people to public life and our collective national history. In the House of Lords we have many Black and minority ethnic members who make an important contribution to the House and  bring their own experience to bear across all aspects of legislation and as members of committees. There is still more to do to ensure equal participation in politics, and we need more Black members in both Houses, as well as to ensure Black people are not disenfranchised by absence from the electoral register, an issue that was highlighted recently by the Lords Committee on the Electoral Registration Act."

There will also be internal events to celebrate Black staff and their experiences, led alongside the workplace equality network ParliREACH.

Image credit:Illustration by Onyinye Iwu