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We’ve taken this year’s Black History Month as an opportunity for education, reflection and the celebration of inspirational individuals, films, TV series, books and charities; and we sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed is as much as we have.

As we come to the end of this year’s BHM, we wanted to take the time to reflect on everything that we shared on our website and social media channels over the last month.

October 7th: Mary Seacole
Mary Seacole was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805 to a Scottish father and Jamaican mother who practised traditional Jamaican medicine in her boarding house, caring for wounded soldiers and their wives. Mary learnt her trade from her mother and opened a hotel in Panama where she saved her first Cholera patient. She also suffered and recovered from Cholera and gained extensive knowledge about the disease; she was widely praised for her treatment of the disease and in 1853 travelled back to Jamaica to assist with a Yellow Fever epidemic.

October 8th: Dr Sylvia Bartley
Executive, Leader, Author, and recognised advocate and champion of social change, dedicated to eliminating economic, health and education disparities. Sylvia’s work is guided by a greater spiritual purpose, one rooted in mindfulness and intentionality.

A Senior Director of the Medtronic Foundation, she oversees employee volunteer engagement for 89,000 employees, as well as Disaster Relief and Patient Empowerment strategies. A role that allows Sylvia to use her genuine leadership style to foster an environment of compassion and humanity.

October 12th: 10 Books for Black History Month
On this day, we wanted to share some key readings from various authors that had been hand-picked by the team here at All Response Media.

October 13th: Olive Morris
Olive Elaine Morris was born in Jamaica in 1952, migrating to Britain with her family by the age of nine. In 1969 she became involved in an incident when a Nigerian diplomat was pulled over in his Mercedes because the police accused him of stealing the car. The diplomat protested his arrest and the incident became violent and Morris stepped in, fighting back when she was handcuffed and being arrested for assault. As a result, Morris became active in the UK’s civil rights movement, joining the Black Panther’s Youth Collective and later going on to help start the Brixton Black Women’s Group and the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD). There are plans to lay a cornerstone memorialising Morris, and a scholarship fund will be set up in her name. In 2015 Morris also became a face of the Brixton Pound, a currency designed to support businesses in South London.

October 15th: Doreen Lawrence OBE
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE. Anti-racism campaigner and Labour peer. The charitable foundation she set up in Stephen’s memory is providing a lasting legacy by changing thousands of young lives. Stephen was 18 when he was stabbed to death by a racist gang in 1993, and when murder charges against the suspects were dropped, Doreen resolved to hold the men who killed her son to account. She became a powerful campaigner, forcing a public inquiry into the way police dealt with Stephen’s murder. Doreen’s autobiography ‘And still I rise – seeking justice for Stephen’ was published by Faber & Faber in 2006.

October 16th: Films & Shows

October 19th: John Edmonstone
John Edmonstone was born into slavery on a plantation belonging to Scottish politician Charles Edmonstone in Demerara (what is now Guyana, South America), in the late 1700s. John gained his freedom when Charles Edmonstone travelled to Scotland, as it was illegal to own a slave in the UK. John took up residence at 37 Lothian Street which was very close to Edinburgh University, where he worked teaching students taxidermy. One of his many students was a certain 17-year-old Charles Darwin, who had gone to the university to study medicine, but his interest in ornithology led him to study under John every day for two months. Not much is known about John’s personal life, and much of the academic writings about John are steeped in racist language. His contribution to the scientific community has largely been reduced to a footnote in Darwin’s biography, and he should undoubtedly be a figure included in any teaching about evolutionary biology.

October 22nd: Sir Steve McQueen
Sir Steven Rodney McQueen, was born in Ealing in 1969, Ealing, to a Grenadian father and a Trinidadian mother, both of whom had immigrated to England. He studied art in London at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and at Goldsmiths College, where he developed an enthusiasm for film. McQueen continued make art and to exhibit his work, but he admitted, after a time, to being bored with the art world. His ascent to the top was complete when he won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year in 2014 — the first Black director or producer to do so — for 12 Years a Slave, based on the harrowing real experiences of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1840s Louisiana.

McQueen was awarded the OBE and CBE before being knighted at the start of this year and has proved himself — in his unparalleled 30-year career — to be one of the most vital, original, uncompromising, inspirational, challenging, and brilliant creative voices of our time.

October 26th: Appreciate history, act today

  • The Black Curriculum – https://theblackcurriculum.com/
    A social enterprise that aims to deliver black British history all across the UK.
  • Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – https://www.stephenlawrencetrust.org/
    Working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13 to 30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice.
  • 100 Black Men of London – http://100bml.org/
    A community-based charity led by Black men delivering programmes and activities focused on mentoring, education, economic empowerment, and health & wellness.
  • Black Thrive – https://www.blackthrive.org.uk/
    A partnership between communities, statutory organisations, voluntary and private sector. They work together to reduce the inequality and injustices experienced by Black people in mental health services.
  • BLAM UK – https://blamuk.org/ / https://www.gofundme.com/f/blamcharity2tr7r4kk?member=1459152
    Aim to promote a positive dialogue of social identity and culture through history.

October 27th: Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, poet and award-winning author known for her acclaimed 1969 memoir, ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’, and her plentiful poetry and essay collections. Angelou’s numerous autobiography volumes explore the themes of economic, racial, and sexual oppression. Her best known poem is perhaps On the Pulse of Morning, which she composed and delivered for the inauguration of U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1993, but today we have shared her inspirational poem, ‘Still I Rise’ shown below.

October 28th: Akala
Kingslee James McLean Daley, aka Akala, was born in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1983 to a Scottish mother and Jamaican father. In 2006, he was voted the Best Hip Hop Act at the MOBO Awards and has been included on the annual Powerlist of the 100 most influential Black British people in the UK. Daley got his stage name from Acala, a Buddhist term for “immovable”, and started releasing music in 2003 from his own independent music label, Illa State Records. Akala’s first book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, can be seen as a comprehensive extension of his Fire in the Booth performances, exploring uncomfortable and hard-hitting truths about the toxic relationship between race and class in Britain. The rapper, journalist, author, activist, and poet deconstructs the myth of meritocracy in Natives, through a narrative that is part-biographical, part-polemic.

This past month has been incredibly inspiring and educational for the team here. Acknowledging and celebrating Black history is something that we aim to do every day, not just in October. We’re working with our staff to elevate black voices and open the floor for a discussion on race in the workplace and ensuring that we harbour an environment that encourages people to speak up and share any concerns should they have any.