Black History Month was started in 1926 in the USA by Carter G Woodson as a way to repond to the view that the Black Americans and others of African descent had made no significant contribution to human civilisation. BHM was first celebrated in the UK in 1987.

Black History month

Black History Month was started by Carter G Woodson in the USA in 1926 and was first celebrated in the UK in 1987. This celebration, which takes place every October, was first formally celebrated by Southampton in 2005 as part of my responsibilities as a Race Development Officer for Southampton City Council. 12 months later I was joined by Jayanti Shah and our partnership as founders was established.

The aims of Black History Month are:To promote knowledge of Black History and experienceTo disseminate information on positive black contributionsTo heighten confidence & awareness of black people in their cultural heritage

Much of the funding for Black History Month has come from private sources and the absence of public funding gave us the independence to do it our way. The themes over the years have included, The Windrush, People of African Descent, Children of The Future and Heroes and it is now an essential part of the Southampton City calendar.

“A Black History of Southampton: 16th Century to 21st Century” by Don John & Stella Muirhead is the only publication that documents the history of Black people in Southampton and explodes the myth that The Windrush Generation were the first black presence in the city. This brief and easily consumable publication is available at October Books, Portswood Rd. Southampton at a cost of £7:99 and is required reading for those with an interest in Black History

Black plaques of the southampton region

Southampton has celebrated Black History Month from 2005 and one of the features has been the recognition of people and moments that have had an impact on Black History in the region. These have come to be known as “Black Plaques” and these plaques are physically located in different parts of the region. Southampton has a rich Black History and this is just a reminder

  • Bob Marley International artist who played at the Coach House Inn: Location:The Fleming Arms on may 29th 1973
  • Joe Harriott pioneer jazz musician who died in Southampton on January 2nd 1973 and is buried at Bitterne Church in the city. Location: The Cultural Quarter Guildhall Square Southampton
  • Mae Street Kidd who worked for The Red Cross; Director of services for black American  soldiers in Southampton during World War II. Location: Royal South Hants Hospital Southampton
  • Craig David international star born in Southampton. Located The Cultural Quarter Guildhall Square
  • Muhammad Ali professional boxer and cultural activist..and more. Located in Hedge End at the site of Fanfare Supermarket that he visited in 1971
  • Southampton Race Equality Council original offices from 1968. Located at 1 Northbrook Rd
  • SouthamptonThe Windrush Generation. Located at The Cultural Quarter Guildhall Square

Black Stories: Southampton

A new publication by Don John featuring 20 stories and events that outlines the presence of Black people in the city from the 16th century. It features people like Jacques Francis the diver, Alexander Patterson who manged a Southampton pub at the turn of the century and Bob Marley who popped up in Swaythling in 1973…and of course Bob Marley in Hedge End in 1971. This publication indicates that there is some unacknowledged history of the Black presence still to be uncovered and told. It is very often the stories with human faces that personified the issues they represented. The book is available from October Books, Portswood, Southampton.

    Graphic Novel: BLACK: The autobiography of Tobias Taitt

    Tobias Taitt grew up in the Southampton area in the 1980s and this book tell the story of his life at a time when some areas of the Social Services and the criminal Justice System are retrospectively seen today as being corrupt and racist and it was not a good time to be Black and connected to these systems. I have known Tobias from his time in Southampton and it was a pleasure to provide the introduction to this extraordinary story.

    Tobias’s story recognises the condition of many of those who were the children of the “Windrush Generation”. This was a time when the first pioneers from the Caribbean raised children, who some argued, were caught between two cultures. Some of these children refused to accept the racism that their parents endured, and this very often led to conflict with the authorities.

    The story is told with humour, candour, pathos and brutal honesty A story which is still commonplace today in a world where some can choose not to be “Black”; and still be comfortable with that decision.

    This book has now been converted into a graphic novel and will be launched during Black History Month as well as being promoted with the support of the Cartoon Museum in central London

      Southampton: the blackness

      Commissioned by Mayflower400 Southampton this 10-minute film tells the stories of 5 people and events with an African/Caribbean background that have impacted on the city of Southampton. The film also reminds us that the city has a 500-year history of the presence of people of African descent which is rarely told. The film was written, directed and produced by Don John & Olu Rowe