If We Are Celebrating Black History, Why Does Lambeth Council Ignore Brixton, 1981?

By Howe, Darcus | New Statesman (1996), October 25, 2004 | Go to article overview
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If We Are Celebrating Black History, Why Does Lambeth Council Ignore Brixton, 1981?


Howe, Darcus, New Statesman (1996)


October has been designated Black History Month. Ask me not when and by whom it was ushered into being. I am certain, though, that it was borrowed from the black movement which unfolded in the US in the 1960s and 1970s. The trouble with such an import is that black people have been making history in the US for more than half a millennium. Not so in the UK. We have been here in numbers significant enough to create history only over the past 50 years or so.

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The interpretation of what is black history is as varied as the brands of chocolate on the market. A friend's daughter said her school would join the celebration. Each class would contribute to an international food day. She could think of nothing other than blackberries, black pudding and chocolate cake.

Lambeth Council's Black History Month began with the unveiling of a blue plaque for that intellectual giant, C L R James, at his last address in England, 165 Railton Road, Brixton. In fact, I had been talking to English Heritage for the past three years or so about a plaque, and was completely taken aback when the council hitched its wagon to the star. But all are welcome in these celebrations. What is more important is the council's failure to appreciate some truly historic moments in this country.

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