Black History Month is an international annual month which celebrates, recognises and values inspirational individuals and events from within the BME communities.
The event was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987 and was organised through the leadership of Ghanaian analystAkyaaba Addai-Sebo, who had served as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council, or GLC, and created a collaboration to get it underway.
The event takes place during the month of October in the UK, during which we remember and celebrate both those important people from the past, and those who are contributing to our society today. October was specifically chosen as there has long been concern about the experience of Black children in the UK, therefore setting this event at the beginning of the academic year can assist in instilling pride and identity into young Black learners. It is also relevant as October is considered a month of tolerance and reconciliation in African culture.
Black History Month does not have an official body behind it and participation is open to everyone, ideally developed, delivered and managed as an educational and historical awareness experience by Black people and should be shared by everyone as world history.
Gwent Police has found different ways to celebrate this event every year. In recent years GEMA (Gwent Police Ethnic Minority Association) the support network for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) staff and officers have come together and celebrated Black History Month.
2013 – we encouraged a reflection on the slave era and its abolition in the UK under William Wilberforce. One of the first Black Police Officers in the Force also shared his experiences. GEMA members also attended events in Cardiff and at the Senedd.
2014 – during the centenary of the Great War, we celebrated the contribution of BAME soldiers to winning the war, including an Italian heritage resident of Newport, Ivor Ginello (Geneloer). We also hosted a cadets awareness event in Pill, Newport for members of the BAME communities.
2015 - GEMA and the Welsh BAME Public Sector Network ran a Black History Month Event in the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay which featured Vaughan Gething AM, and Edward Watts (Gwent Police Independent Advisory Group member).
2016 - GEMA and the Welsh BAME Public Sector Network again organised a Black History Month Event in the Atlantic Wharf HQ of Cardiff Council, which included Chief Constable Jeff Farrar. Heather Powell, Community Cohesion Manager, and Tola Munro from GEMA presented on Gwent Police’s Positive Action success in increasing the representation of BAME officers in the Force.
The plan each year is to find something innovative, informative and inspiring for members of GEMA and the wider workforce of Gwent Police.